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Ten_Thousand_VillagesSeveral retailers are in the news for store closings: The Limited, Macy's, and now Ten Thousand Villages. Obviously, the latter is a small operation, but this one landed in my email because I've been on our local board of directors for the past four years. Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit, fair trade organization.

For all of these companies, the news is not surprising. Sales have been declining fairly steadily, with brick-and-mortar stores finding it increasingly difficult to compete with internet sales.

Communication from Carl Lundblad, Interim CEO Ten Thousand Villages

Since our founding in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has existed to fulfill one important mission: creating opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term fair trading relationships.

As a fair trade leader, Ten Thousand Villages is committed to the future sustainability of this mission. To that end, we will take a number of actions to simplify our operations in 2017, including closing 12 company-owned stores and reducing staffing at our office headquarters and warehouse by approximately 20 positions.

Though critically necessary, these decisions have been difficult. We are profoundly grateful for the contributions of stores and staff in growing fair trade across the country and changing lives around the world. It is this legacy that we will build on as we move forward, reaffirming ourselves as fair trade pioneers— still committed to business that is ethical at every step, still rooted in our founding principles of selling product and telling stories of social and economic empowerment.

With support refocused on growth opportunities and initiatives to improve core operations, we can be more responsive to the market and ultimately better positioned to help artisans in developing countries in meaningful ways. Thank you for supporting our mission. We look forward to your continued partnership as we evolve into a stronger Ten Thousand Villages.

Chris Oliver
Alliance Manager

The message includes the basics: the bad news, a bit about the decision process, and plans for moving forward.

Discussion:

  • Where is the news in the announcement? How well does the organization work?
  • After reading this message, how optimistic would you feel about the company's future? Why?
  • Assess the announcement against additional principles of bad-news messages in Chapter 8. What works well, and advice would you give to Chris Oliver to improve the message?