Candi Smucker believes the workers of the world deserve to earn a sustaining wage. And she knows that there are many shoppers who want to purchase goods that benefit the people who created them. Her first belief is grounded in humanitarianism; the second comes from solid experience. Her success as a retail manager for bookstores and fair trade gift stores prompted her to begin working with Ten Thousand Villages, a job creation program for third world artisans. She spearheaded the creation of five stores, authored a training manual, and trained 150 Ten Thousand Villages storeowners.
Candi Smucker knows what sells. Beginning as a clerk at a Christian bookstore in Seattle, she rose to general manager and then moved to Chicago to manage the headquarters bookstore for Scripture Press. She joined a Christian bookstore franchise group as vice-president of operations and opened 17 stores. When she managed Cross Cultural Crafts, a fair trade gift store in the Chicago area, it grew from a small-scale, start-up shop to two successful stores. In the Ten Thousand Villages project, Candi found a cause that would take full advantage of her business acumen. For the past 15 years, she has invested her energy in creating and managing stores and training storeowners and volunteers. The stores do business with workers who create their products in good conditions, cooperate with local villages, do not use child labor in substitution for school attendance, and receive a fair wage for their work. The Ten Thousand Villages stores are making a difference, and Candi joined in the chorus of voices telling stories of success. She visited with artist groups in Guatemala, Bangladesh, India, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Nepal, learning that the stores make the difference between one and two meals a day. In some cases, income from the stores made schooling and medical services possible. Villages were able to establish schools and health care clinics, pave streets, and provide recreation for young people. After opening four schools in other communities, Candi opened her own store, and now manages Baksheesh, a fair trade store in Sonoma, California. Since opening in May of 1997, the store has grown to over $500,000 in annual sales. Baksheesh opened a second store in Healdsburg, California, in 1993.
Ten Thousand Villages