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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ten Thousand Villages

I don't often make commercial recommendations. But I sometimes find myself feeling a bit like Oprah Winfrey, wanting to offer the world "a few of my favorite things." They are the things I feel drawn to, find value in and find myself appreciating more than I expected to.

Like I said, I don't tend to recommend things. I spent most of my life not really appreciate much of anything either. (There's a confession moment!) So in my old age it is ironic to find myself appreciating something. And then I appreciate something else. Mind you, I'm always grateful for those gifts from God, the provisions, the miracles, the sunrises and cool breezes. That I have no problem with.

But it is the collection of commercial things that I guess I've always been a bit cynical about. I mean, I expect to get what I pay for. More often than not, I'm disappointed. What I pay for fails to meet my expectations. Sales clerks are surly and indifferent. Extended warranties usually aren't. Even low prices don't seem like such a good deal. Nevertheless, the list of my favorite things is starting to grow. Go figure.

So what are "a few of my favorite things?"
  • Chevrolet - they make a good vehicle for a good price.
  • Long John Silver's - a wonderful alternative to the greasy hamburger - greasy seafood!
  • Lipton Diet Green Iced Tea - with citrus flavor (this stuff is addictive).
  • Credit Unions - their executives never make the GDP of third world countries.
  • HP/Compaq computers - among the best quality and service for the money.
  • - a web site that makes microlending very personal!
  • Squash - all varieties. It has many uses and is a taste many overlook.
  • Still Standing - the TV sitcom about everyday people in everyday life. Very funny.
I didn't think my list of favorite things would grow much. But this week I added another new one. It's a retail store with an intriguing ethical mission. Ten Thousand Villages ( acts as a marketplace for craftsmen in cities, towns, villages and even farms all over the world. They act as the conduit for these people to get their crafts to market.

Most of the offerings of Ten Thousand Villages are smaller items because of the cost of shipping. But their retail stores carry better selections because they can spread the cost of shipping across some critical mass of volume. On their web site, you can shop by country and even by group represented within a country.

We've had coffee beans sold this way, toiletries and other items. Most of those offerings are new in the marketplace (as are their web sites). The cool thing about Ten Thousand Villages is that they've been around for a very long time! They were cool before it was invented. Check them out!

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