Where to Find It – the Fun, Adventure, Exploring and Buying

April 15, 2011

The world is so small – thanks to the internet and all of the advanced media channels that allow international exposure to design, culture, social activities and far-reaching trends. We see things before we experience them first-hand or we experience first-hand things that originate from afar – from places we might never visit. Yet we DO experience some of the sensory features like seeing the art, touching the textures, smelling the scents of products that end up in our world – from museums to retailers like IKEA, Pier One…the adventurous originals (who remember Dockside in Old Town Alexandria?) they who “shop the world so you don’t have to!” They have brought folk art, flavors, cultural influences, design and décor from all corners of the world to us everywhere for decades. Oh, we can go way back before that to the adventurous explorers, spice traders, and global swashbucklers who dared to dart across the open seas to trade between exotic ports.
When you actually travel to these distant places, you see many of these same things but, in context. Sometimes a disappointment of mass production or poor living/working conditions but, more often it’s a joyful exhilaration of realizing that you are actually at the place where these wondrous things originate – whatever they might be. To see the villages and regions, from where folk-art traditions have been continued for generations, is amazing.
It is great fun to have an outlet to actually “travel the world and shop to you don’t have to” as I explore the markets, meet the artists, and barter to bring small representations of these experiences home for my eclectic little shop. Customers delight in seeing what treasures they might find that are not available elsewhere – that perfect gift and where to find it. I had always thought it would be a great adventure to be a buyer for a big pocketbook – Horchow, Gumps, those marvelous retailers who intentionally scour the globe in search of new design offerings and make contacts for custom fabrication. Yet I am quite content to incorporate a small treasure hunting exercise into each of my travels to discover and convey a selection of bounty resulting from each exciting encounter. (Like thes tiny glass bluebirds and fabulous handpainted/glazed bowls brought back from Greece last week!)

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