Blog: The Buying Trip, Part 2: The Show
More from Della: I love folk art. The way it is imperfect and true. It's often not shiny or easily stacked for display. I have been to clothing shows with long silver rolling racks full of new product, all color coordinated and carefully merchandised. I have been to regular gift shows, with boxes of candles, and displays full of precisely lined and edged items for the gift customer. There is a need for these types of shows. But then there is Kentia Hall, a mecca of importers ready to offer their "ethnic" product.
As we waited in line, the first day of the show, we made notes of one of a kind items to run towards and sticker. (We carry World's Window stickers and attach them to certain items to "claim" as ours). "You go to the Mexican nativities, and I'll look for kimono." These finds are exciting, as other buyers also make their way to specific booths to be the first to claim the best. The doors open and dozens of store owners and their entourages file into this convention space which is like no other.
World's Window has a certain magic; much of this comes from this sort of buying trip. The choices seem endless. There are booths after booths of Chinese, African, Mexican, Nepalese, and Japanese hand crafts to ponder. The discovery and hunt is the job. What a job to have. We labored over piles of textiles, amazing bags, hand made jewelry, carved treasures, furniture, whimsy, and recycled everything. We talked with artisans and importers and got first hand stories and hardships.
I fell in love with a vendor, who introduced himself and his product by saying in a large and powerful voice, "I am Mali." His stories of his people and culture were endearing. He believed in his ancestors and what his products stood for. In turn, I did as well. He wasn't selling a polished branded something or other, he was there to bring Mali to the people and help them discover the craftsmanship. I felt mostly like I wanted to have lunch with so many individuals, to hear their stories, and share in their knowledge. So we bought and we bartered. We listened and we discussed. We examined and we touched all the pieces and understood their meanings. Wait until you see what is to come. I can hardly wait, and I've already had a sneak preview. (to be continued)