WINNIPEG -- Ten Thousand Villages Canada has announced the end of its corporate operations, with its head office, online store and all but a handful of independent locations slated to close before June.

Both Ten Thousand Villages locations in Winnipeg are among the stores in the chain that will close, with the store on Henderson Highway closing doors March 31 and the Winnipeg Plaza location closing May 29.

The Mennonite Central Committee Canada announced the closure online, saying the chain began in 1946 with Edna Ruth Byler’s dream to see all people earn a “fair and stable income, through the dignity of work.”

According to the chain, Byler, an American, traveled to Puerto Rico that year and met women who were struggling to feed their families, who created embroidery for which there was no market.

The idea eventually blossomed into the global fair trade movement, according to the Ten Thousand Villages website.

“Now, in our 74th year, we are proud to say that we have empowered over 100,000 makers around the world to earn a fair and stable income, share their craft with a global market, gain access to education and medical services, better working conditions, equal opportunities for women and so much more,” it said, announcing the closure.

It cited a challenging retail environment and an inability to achieve sales needed to stay sustainable as the reason the MCCC is closing Ten Thousand Villages Canada.

It also said the only stores that will remain open -- including one in Steinbach, Man., and one in Brandon -- are run by separate boards who have opted to continue operating.

The online store will also close May 29, 2020.