My husband is half South American and half American South. He grew up on fried chicken and iced tea in a midcentury modern home filled with Colombian art and textiles. His ladylike mother speaks in a soft southern voice while his father's thick accent and debonair manner always remind me of that lovable Latin, Ricky Ricardo.
These days, my husband's work requires him to travel to South America. It is a valuable opportunity for his career while also providing him a way to see the land of his ancestors and reconnect with the Colombian branch of the family tree. But most importantly, it is a chance for him to shop!
On his travels, he spends his downtime trolling the city markets and venturing into the countryside where he makes friends with vendors and texts me photos with prices. Before you pity the man who always packs an extra bag for schlepping and who has had his suitcase disemboweled by airport security many times, consider the fact that he loves the hunt maybe as much as I do. My shop is his shop.
His influence is evident in the collections at Finder Not Keeper. He loves old books, military paraphernalia, beat-up leather goods, equestrian equipment, weaponry, rusty gears and machinery, and especially the vessels and accoutrements that hold his two favorite liquids -- coffee and amber alcohol. All this testosterone actually shows up in the shop's analytics. Google tells me that my visitors are 55% men vs. 45% women.
When he shops, my husband always begins with a hearty "Buenos Dias!" to the shopkeeper before handling any merchandise. He asks a lot of questions about an item that interests him, its provenance and age and method of production. If an item does not have a price tag, he knows to haggle between 25-50% less than the price quoted. If the item is tagged, there is less room for bargaining. And with every transaction, he employs a technique which serves him well no matter what previous negotiations have occurred. He politely reaches a bargain with a shopkeeper that seems to satisfy all parties and then at the last moment, he affably asks for one more item to be thrown in. He has yet to be denied!
He says that in all of his travels, he is struck by this truth: the goods are different but the people are the same. A warm smile, an open demeanor, and a genuine interest in the culture will grease the wheels of trade more than cold hard cash.
"A traveler must have the back of an ass to bear all, a tongue like the tail of a dog to flatter all, the mouth of a hog to eat what is set before him, the ear of a merchant to hear all and say nothing." -- John Florio