If you have an overseas trip planned and want to make the most out of the unique items that can be purchased abroad, then think about supporting local artisans and making sure your money goes directly to the local economy. Not only does this allow you to support global economies directly, but the practice is environmentally friendly, prosperous for small businesses, and prone to inspire creativity. Before you start your global shopping trip, follow the tips below to make the most out of your experience.
Research Before You Travel
You probably know that certain cities and countries are known for their traditional goods and pieces of artwork. There are hundreds of artisans throughout the world, and knowing what each location is famous for can help you to understand exactly what you should be looking for when it comes to goods and prepare you to bring things home with you.
For example, if you intend on visiting Italy, then you will have the opportunity to purchase a fine array of handmade glass items. Italian artisans specialize in handmade ceramics, mosaic glass decorations, Murano glass pieces, and handblown glass goods. These glass items are unique in their appearance and are quite expensive. If you find out that you will have access to glass goods, then your research will reveal that you should bring bubble wrap or other types of packing materials with you.
If your research reveals that your destination offers a variety of handmade cloths and garments, like one of the many cities of India, then this can help you to identify the handwoven textiles while shopping. You will also be able to bring an extra suitcase or two to make sure that you have more than enough room to bring your fabrics home.
Look at Labels and Signatures
Seeking out small shops, open-air markets, farmer's markets, and local booths is a good way to make sure that you are able to peruse the goods offered by local artisans and merchants. This is how local businesses sell their items. However, some merchants will sell goods that are mass-produced in factories and try to mix in with the crowd of artisans.
One good way to make sure that you are actually buying artisan goods is to look at the labels, signatures, and insignias on all items that you purchase. The labeling will depend on the type of goods that you purchase. For example, Murano glass will be clearly identified with the signature of the glass maker. In most cases, the signature will be imprinted in the glass before it hardens, so the insignia will be smooth. Some artisans also use gold or silver paint to sign glass pieces after they have hardened.
Fabric and clothing makers will typically have their own woven labels that mark their goods, and you will be able to see hand stitching and other evidence of craftsmanship. If you are unsure about how to tell if an item is a handmade artisan one, then ask the artisan about their products. Many artisans will be happy to show you their artist markings or offer information about how products are created. Business cards and website are also a great resource to find artisans over merchants who sell mass-produced goods.Share