Kate and George go Shopping..in Europe!
Posted May 8, 2012on:
Kudzu owners Kate and George Lawes recently returned from their latest European buying trip, exhausted and eager to share their latest finds. “Many people think it’s all fun and adventure, going to Europe to buy,” says Kate, “but it’s often hectic schedules, long gruelling days, questionable weather, and constant decision making.”
“You’re on a real fast track,” says George, “because you’ve got to fill a 40’ steel container as quickly and efficiently as possible. That can mean buying 400-500 individual items, each requiring finding, negotiating, packing and shipping. We do a lot of buying at large international fairs, huge events with thousands of vendors, and you really have to move fast because you’re competing with buyers from around the world. Not to mention, you’re constantly calculating English pounds or Euros to dollars, adding in expenses, and trying to figure if the price it will end up at in the shop will be a good price for customers.”
“This trip the weather was really lousy,” says Kate, “cold and rainy, but you just have to keep moving. Of course, it helps to be able to warm up at night in the local pub with a bit of Irish whiskey or a nice Guinness. But the best thing is that you meet so many great people, especially in the businesswe’re in. It tends to attract interesting people.”
“One of the keys is to build a network with local ‘pickers’ who have warehouses full of interesting finds.” says George. “We spend many hours digging through cold, drafty buildings looking for great stuff. And it’s a lot of fun to continually come across interesting items from all across Europe.”
“A simple bucket in Holland”, says Kate, “can become a unique flower vase over here. We love finding something we’ve never seen before, and introducing it to our customers at Kudzu. It’s part of what helps to make Kudzu such an interesting place to shop. By buying direct ourselves, we can choose exactly what we think works for Kudzu, and deliver it at the best possible price.”
“We found some really neat things this trip; a large painted carnival sideshow entrance, great old mapcases, great pub signs, antique school maps, stained glass windows, Victorian tea kettles, and on and on. What’s fun is that we forget half of it, so when we open the container, it’s like Christmas. ‘Oh! Look at that! Who bought that?’”
“This trip we treated ourselves to a few days in Paris at the end. It was cold and rainy there too, but heck, we were in Paris! so no complaints. We simply warmed ourselves with wine instead. We had some fun at one of the Paris flea markets buying old ‘ephemera’, vintage French advertisements, magazines, and children’s books, that should look great framed.”
“By the time we make it back, home looks pretty good. Unfortunately, we then spend days filling out customs forms and paperwork, but it’s all worth while when the container comes.
We’ll be sure to let everyone know when the container lands, because we can’t wait to see what you think of our latest finds!