Race to the Village This Saturday in Broad Ripple

Want to spend your Saturday browsing exotic home and beauty goods, sipping some vino, and supporting a great cause all at the same time? Then make sure to mark your calendar for The Village Experience’s Race to the Village celebration this Saturday, May 22, from 4:00 p.m-9:00 p.m.

The Village Experience is officially expanding, and will now feature kitchen and home goods as well as jewelry, clothing items, and other specialty products. Grab your wallet and a friend, and come hungry–there will be appetizers from Five Star Catering, wine samples from Barefoot Wine, and beer samples from Upland Brewery.

The Village Experience is a unique beauty and home goods boutique located in the trendy Broad Ripple district that sells fair-trade merchandise from impoverished countries around the world. Since its opening in April 2008, the eclectic, artsy shop has become a local favorite for chic, earthy jewelry, accessories, and more. The Village Experience’s mission is to be a socially pro-active business dedicated to uplifting impoverished communities in the developing world through efforts in international trade and tourism.

This Saturday’s Race to the Village celebration is the perfect opportunity to meet the owners, explore the new merchandise the shop has to offer, and learn more about the mission of The Village Experience.

Co-owner Anne Campbell said about the expansion, “Expanding our retail store has been a dream ever since we moved into our space–we never could have imagined we would be taking our business to the next level so quickly! The Village Experience now represents over 45 artisan groups in 23 countries. We make it a priority to continuously work with our groups on design, color and trend. I could not be more excited to showcase their talent and tell their stories of hope!”

The new merchandise will add a unique twist to the usual Indianapolis shopping. The new products will have their own space now, which is an addition to the space the store currently occupies. The new items will include fair trade coffee (whole bean and ground) and tea from all over the world; pressed olive oil from Palestine; a wide variety of candy; and Cookie and Brownie mixes made by an organization that rehabilitates American female ex-cons (The Women’s Bean Project). Tea pots, serving sets, and exotic animal print serving bowls will be available as well, in addition to bottle openers from Kenya, which Anne designed exclusively for The Village Experience.

And the new space won’t just be for shopping. According to Emily Hammock, Events Coordinator for The Village Experience: “Expanding the store will give us even more space to host events. We welcome all groups–book clubs, sororities, businesses–to hold their meetings or gatherings here. It’s a great space to mingle, eat, and shop and we’ll donate ten percent of the proceeds to a charity of their choice!”

In addition to The Village Experience retail store, there is another component to this Indianapolis business: international tourism. Owners Kelly and Anne Campbell are dedicated to not only selling beautiful, quality merchandise crafted by women in third-world countries, but to taking mission trips to these communities to interact directly with the villagers.

These trips to the developing world focus on educating the participant on the culture of the community and spreading humanitarianism. According to the store’s Website, “They are designed to give the traveler a ‘real, off-the-beaten path, village’ experience.” For more information on how you can join in on a trip, visit the Website, or come to the Race to the Village event on Saturday to talk to the owners themselves.

Kelly Campbell is not only Co-Owner of The Village Experience, but she is also Director of The Village Cooperative. The Village Cooperative receives a percentage of the business’ revenue, as well as private donations, to help start and maintain income-generating projects in the developing world. The Village Cooperative has worked mainly in Kenya so far, donating funds for such projects as school renovations, sanitation programs, and a community garden.

They have also given grants to small groups with new business ideas, including a chicken coop project, an alteration business, and a party rental business. The goal of The Village Cooperative is to help these projects become self-sustaining so that the people can continue making income long after they’ve earned their initial grants.

Says Kelly about The Village Cooperative and the benefits of the upcoming store expansion: “This expansion will give us the ability to carry more fair trade lines, and thus support more communities and help employ more women. We are also eager to offer greater variety to our customers in the Indianapolis area. This expansion will allow more students and interns to be involved in the company itself and take The Village Cooperative, our non-for-profit, to the next level by expanding space for donor meetings and gatherings.”

To learn more about The Village Experience and its mission and meet the owners, head to Broad Ripple Saturday afternoon. Enjoy meeting other Indianapolis citizens who are as passionate about the Indianapolis nonprofit world as you are, explore the beautiful merchandise, and be sure to enjoy the elegant spread of appetizers, beer and wine. Giving back has never been so easy!

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The Villlage Experience “Race to the Village” Event
Saturday, May 22, 4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
6055 North College Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220

Read about Casey Brackney.