Tom Hoffarth: Sports media columnist embarks on career change for noble cause

The good news is that Tom Hoffarth will continue to write about sports media for the Los Angeles Daily News as a part-time contributor. However, he has embarked in a new direction that sounds really interesting.

I’ll let Tom tell you about it:

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I may have told you that for the last couple of years I’ve been involved with a group that started a non-profit called Ten Thousand Villages South Bay. We wanted to launch a store that helps people. It’s as simple as that. The company sends representatives out to developing countries, finds artisans who make pretty incredible things, and sets up what’s called a Fair Trade arrangement. They get paid up front, we work with them on developing more craft items that we can sell, they start their own business and have an established way to empower themselves to get out of poverty, send their kids to school for the first time, get health care, build a house for themselves …. It’s pretty phenomenal hearing their stories.

Our small part on our end is joining this network of stores called Ten Thousand Villages, and if you take a look at their website — TenThousandVillages.com – you can see the things for sale, the videos of their stories.

So as our story goes, we finally raised enough in donations and opened a store — 1907 S. Catalina Ave., in the Riviera Village area of South Redondo Beach. Since we’ve opened the doors on Friday June 27, it’s been fantastic response. Especially with the women buying up jewelry, baskets, wall hangings …  It’s tough to keep things on the shelves. We need to reorder ASAP.

And who’s going to do that?

I’ve stepped away from my full-time writing to become the store manager, without much business background, but learning every day how to do inventory, customer service, merchandising, bank deposits … how do you re-glue a large wooden herron when it breaks in half? Those kind of things that aren’t on my journalism resume. It’s scary and crazy and exciting at the same time.

The career change is well worth it. The plan for now is to continue to write media columns on Friday when I’m free and do the Monday’s Play It Forward feature of the week ahead. I still have a lot of training to do, but at the end of the day, all this sweat and angst is going to a much greater cause. And I think I can finally sit and enjoy a sporting event now without worrying too much that I’m doing actual work instead. Like watching Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. I was driving home from a training shift in Pasadena that Friday night, going right past Staples Center as the game was  in OT on my radio, feeling bittersweet, but knowing this is where I’m called to go for now.

Please come by and visit the store and check us out. As a non-profit we continue to take donations (we can accept them via PayPal at our first website, www.southbayvillages.org,) but we also have a new website www.tenthousandvillages.com/redondobeach that has more about our store. Our official grand opening is July 18-20 weekend. The guys may not be the ones buying here, but you’re always going to be looking for a special gift, and this is the place to go. I’m tellin’ you.  I know some people who can give you a good employee discount.

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