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Ecuador shopping & exporting offers savings and profit.

First let’s look at shopping… then how to shop for exports.

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Other ways of making/saving…Jean Marie Butterlin and Bonnie Keogh have teamed up to help you save on Ecuador shopping… and learn where the bargains are.

Bonnie Keogh explains when she writes:

Are you thinking, did I read that correctly, does that say “make a profit shopping”?  Yes, you read it correctly.   Yes, I’m talking about  Ecuador shopping.  Yes, I know fun is not the word that usually comes to my mind when we think about Christmas shopping.

But wait a minute.  Let’s make it fun.  This year why not shop for profit in Ecuador?

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You’ll see wood and gold…

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sculptures…

Bonnie continues:

“I’ve been traveling around Ecuador for many years; both on my own and leading groups.  I’ve discovered unique handcrafted items, many one of a kind.  During my travels, I’ve met many wonderful artists and business owners who are anxious to tell me about their products.

“Many are family businesses, skills have been passed from one generation to the next.   Customers are appreciated.  Prices are flat out bargains.  Isn’t this a better atmosphere to shop than the usual crowded, noisy mall with limited selection, expensive prices and merchandise that all looks the same and is poor quality.

“You could go to a department store and buy Grandma a lap blanket to keep her cozy.    It’s a thoughtful gift. It would probably be made in China.

“You’ll see hand made…

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jewelry of…

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every sort.

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“Or, you could buy her an alpaca lap blanket with hand crocheted edging and fringe, you’ll have your choice of dozens of vibrant colors.

“You can’t believe how soft alpaca wool is until you feel it.  It’s also lightweight and oh so warm.  And have someone snap a photo of you at the market making your purchase, Grandma will love hearing about your trip and shopping adventures.  All you buy will be extra special and unique, only you will know what wonderful bargains they were.

“In fact, you can probably save enough money to pay for your trip.

“The art is varied, plus really…

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in expensive and…

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you get to meet the artists.

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There are so many opportunities.  “This is one time when you can definitely mix business with pleasure.

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These scarves make…ecuador-christmas-tour

wonderful products to sell.

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“They are inexpensive, easy to pack, lightweight and one size fits all.  You can choose from hundreds of beautiful colors and designs.  You won’t believe the prices, no, don’t ask, I won’t tell you!  Come see for yourself.

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“Do you know someone who collects chickens or roosters?  I bet they don’t have one from Ecuador in their collection.

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“These girls are sisters, they live near Otavalo.  Earning money is a family effort in Ecuador, one generation learns from another. The sisters sell scarves and dolls to our tour groups and sing songs in Quichua, their indigenous language.

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“Wouldn’t you rather buy from her than a big, box store?

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“A new leather belt is a great gift, for a guy or a gal.  Most of the belts made in this family workshop are under $10!  Great quality too.

Bonnie Keoughecuador-christmas-tour

Bonnie Keough after her latest shopping trip.

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Colorful dough ornaments, each one  carefully handcrafted by the owner of this workshop and cost less than a dollar.

There are…

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ponchos and…

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much much more.

Now let’s look at Ecuador exports.

How to find Ecuador ponchos for export profits.

By Bonnie Keough

One of the questions I’m often asked about the suitcase importing tour is how do I find the places we visit.  Well, for me, that’s a fun challenge.

When I’m in Ecuador, I’m constantly on the lookout for new workshops and artists.   The places we visit on the Export Expedition are definitely not in the tourist books.

We are welcomed into people’s homes, shops and studios.   We bypass any middleman or wholesaler and our delegates deal directly with the owner who,  along with other family members, is usually also the manufacturer.

I’ve found that everyone who grew up in the area knows someone or has a relative who makes something.  It might not always be something appropriate for our groups, but they might know someone who makes something that is appropriate.  It’s a treasure hunt of sorts.   When I’m searching for new workshops, I start the day with a plan in mind, but who knows where we’ll  end up.  It’s always an adventure.

On one of my trips about three years ago,   I decided to track down a poncho maker I had heard about.  He made a different type of poncho, plaids, softer fabrics and more modern in design.  He lived in a village close to Cotacachi.  I didn’t have an address, just his town.   But heck, it’s a small village,  I figured someone in town will know who and where he is.

So, we (I usually find a friend or two up for an adventure) jumped in a taxi with one of our loyal drivers and off we went.   Our drivers have the patience of  saints, thank goodness.

When we got to the village, we drove around while the driver asked people on the street if they knew where the poncho maker lived!    After a lot of odd looks and many shaking of their heads,  we were finally directed to an older lady walking on the street.   I can only imagine what the poor women thought when a car full of strangers  pulled up next to her as she walked and started asking her about ponchos!  Once she realized we were interested in buying her wares, she told us to follow her home.  So, as she hoofed it as fast as possible, we trailed along curbside!   As soon as she opened her door, I knew we had found the poncho maker that I had looked for!  We enjoyed buying and selling those ponchos for a year or so…and somehow just dropped out of the picture.

Several months ago I decided to go back to that village and track down the poncho maker again.

Same method, probably same taxi driver.  The workshop was no longer there, so we started asking people on the street where we could find the poncho maker.  We were directed to a house on the hill.

chickens

Chickens scurried across our path as we knocked on the door.  An older indigenous man answered, a surprised look crossed his face when he saw the unusual

entourage gathered at his doorstep.

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After a brief explanation, he welcomed us inside. It was perfect.   A family workshop that produced  good quality handwoven wool ponchos and rugs from start to finish!

yarn

By that I mean they spin their own yarns, dye them, weave the fabric and then sew the fabric into ponchos.  The rugs are their own designs.

Several large shuttle looms were in use in a nearby room, no electric looms here.

The owner told us he sells his wares to many of the vendors in Otavalo market.

BK and poncho

We found the perfect poncho maker to add to our upcoming expedition list!

colorful ponchos

The family makes bright, colorful striped ponchos and

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traditional designs in natural colors.

Sunday is a family day in Ecuador, but even our tour visit fell on a Sunday, we were still invited into their workshop.  The whole family, with 12 children and many grandchildren, was there to welcome us.

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Everyone greeted us!

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The children were dressed in their Sunday finest andponcho maker family

charmed us with their smiles.poncho maker family

David trying on poncho

The delegates had a great time, some bought ponchos, others bought rugs, purses, dolls, scarves and hats.

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poncho maker family, mom & daughter

Children learn from their parents and grandparents.  All ages contribute to the family.

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This was one of many memorable stops on our tour and I now have the address of the poncho maker and family!  Hope to see you down there for an Export Expedition!

These tours start in Quito and end in Cotacachi.  They are centered around the Inn Land of the Sun.  Your room and meals are not included in the tour.  The rates are $59+ taxes and include a full served breakfast.  We will provide transportation from and back to Quito or you may choose to stay longer in Cotacachi.

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Bonnie

See details on Bonnie’s Ecuador Export Tours

 

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