The annual Ten Thousand Villages sale opened today at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church and will continue through this weekend.
Handcrafted items from around the world are featured, ranging from Nepalese hats and scarves to olive wood nativities from Israel, a selection of Christmas cards, and jewelry from various nations. Items are as unique as Colombian orange-peel angel ornaments and a gecko-and-guitar made from strips of recycled soda cans in South Africa.
The Mercer Island Presbyterian Church has been hosting the sale for at least 20 years, said volunteer Judy Ginn. Seventy-five volunteers are helping with this year's event.
Ten Thousand Villages is a Christian fair trade retailer that serves as a bridge between artisans in their villages — in 38 countries — and external markets. Established in 1946, it is also a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Artisans receive half of their payment up front, which helps them to afford their supplies, and then receive the remaining half of their profit upon the delivery of their goods.
"They have a consistent source of income and they earn a fair price," said volunteer Cindy Fennell.
Sale hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Dec. 1. The sale will also be open on Sunday after church services.
For more information, go to www.tenthousandvillages.com.
Below, Sioux Thompson (right) shops with volunteers Penny Livingston and Patricia Darling; Judy Ginn, a volunteer, holds a smiling angel ornament; and Christmas stockings handmade by artisans in Nepal partnering with Ganesh Himal Trading.