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After two-and-a-half decades in business, Village International is closing

Downtown fair trade craft store's stock being sold off at half price

After two-and-a-half decades in business, downtown fair trade craft retailer Village International will close its doors for good this spring.

Pauline Loyer, who has managed Village International since nearly the beginning, said most products are half price as she attempts to sell off the stock. The products, mostly handicrafts, are created by people in developing countries and sold as fair trade goods. 

"It's guilt-free shopping. We call it giving the women a hand up instead of a hand out,” said Loyer, who also carries work by local artists on consignment, and is well known for her charitable efforts.

She said the building on Durham Street where Village International has been located for the past 15 years is being put up for sale.

The building, sandwiched in between Money Mart and the derelict former Roy's Furniture Store, is owned by Dr. Claire Lucie Brunet.

Brunet actually purchased the building in part to give Village International a home, Loyer said, but decided to sell as she nears retirement.

Loyer said she was originally going to close the store by the end of February, but became ill and was hospitalized in January, meaning the store was closed for a few weeks and she couldn't sell off the stock.

She now plans to close for good by the end of April or May.

Village International opened in 1993 at École Nolin on Notre Dame Avenue, and at that time was a library and education centre focusing on developing countries.

By 1995, it had moved to the corner of Notre Dame and King streets, and morphed into the fair trade craft store it is today.

Loyer said she began volunteering at Village International shortly after she moved to Sudbury in 1995, and has been the manager since. “I walked into the place and fell in love,” she said.

Village International moved to two different storefronts on Lasalle Boulevard in the early 2000s, and finally to its current location on Durham Street in 2004.

The store was actually closed for five months in 2018 after a flood originating from the former Roy's Furniture building destroyed some Village International stock and the building required extensive repairs.

Loyer said she's sad, but said she can't come up with the money to purchase the building, and realizes at age 63, she's getting on in years, and would need to find someone younger to take over anyway.

“When you've worked so long to one commitment, it breaks your heart,” she said. “To me, this is one of my children … It becomes a passion. You've raised this as much as you've raised your own kids.”

Upstairs from Village International is a space occupied by Myths and Mirrors Community Arts.

Founder Laurie McGauley said the organization has been informed that the building owner is interested in selling, but hasn't yet received clear information about when they need to vacate.

Myths and Mirrors also operates out of Victory Park, but uses the Durham Street venue for office space and some arts projects. 

She said the trouble is that the Durham space is not accessible, so Myths and Mirrors is looking for a new space that meets those requirements and is also affordable.

“Our reality is our landlady has been incredibly generous,” she said, adding that Brunet has charged them minimal rent.

By the way, if you're interested in checking out Village International, the store is located at 139 Durham St., and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday. Phone 705-524-2999.