Nepal is mostly known around the world as the country of Mt. Everest, the highest peak of the world. It is known as a country of natural beauty and treasures. However, if I have to describe. Nepal in a single word I would call it ‘a rainbow’. Each color in a rainbow is different from the other and only when all the 7 are together does a rainbow truly makes sense. Similarly, the natural beauty of Nepal is just one shade of Nepal. The complete beauty and magnificence of the country comes together when other little things all come in place. However, one must remember that you will see from your eyes but what you understand from it will depend upon your perspective. Many will see Nepal as a country bounded by traditions, weighed by values and probably find it a little antient too but, if you have vision you will see Nepal as the rainbow that it is.
Nepal is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country with over a hundred different recognized ethnic communities. From the distinctiveness of each of these communities, Nepal’s unique art and culture is born. These arts are mostly manifested in the forms of beautiful and intricate handmade handicrafts.
Some popular Nepali handicraft items are Dhaka cloth items, wooden ankhi jhyal, lokta paper and its items, metal statues, felt products, woolen carpets, singing bowls, prayer flags, natural and biodegradable hemp products, incense sticks, cotton clothing items and so on. Nepali handicraft items are quite popular around the world and huge no. of exports take place on a daily basis. Not just retail but large shipments are also shipped off by sea and air.
Although it might seem like a small place, it’s amazing how much of goods is produced in the Nepalese market. However, the Nepalese market is rather young and still growing. The concepts of e-commerce and online shopping has just begun to emerge and most of the buying and selling still takes place first hand. This can be troublesome and challenging for international sellers looking forward to import from Nepal. So, if you’re a buyer looking forward to getting goods from Nepal how will you do it? How will you select a genuine consistent supplier? What qualities do they need to have? Where will you look for the supplier? How should you calculate genuine rates while looking for a product in Nepal? Let us look at the answers to all these questions in brief.
How to shop in Nepal? Retail/wholesale
Whether you are shopping retail or wholesale the first thing that you need to know is the general market prices of the item you are trying to get. Go around a few shops and ask for the price so you have an overview. Hop around a few and settle on the price you are willing to pay for it and the quality you want. Remember ‘quality’ because you can always get a cheaper version of whatever it is you are trying to buy but ask yourself if that quality satisfies you. Although most shopkeepers will know basic English and can communicate with you its best, if you can take someone who is good at the local language for translations it will help you get a better deal.
Where to shop in Nepal?
You know what you want to get and what you’re willing to pay for it. Now the real trick is discovering where to shop for it?
The most popular tourist destination for handicraft items is definitely places in the Kathmandu valley such as Basantapur- Jhocheen freak street, Thamel, Patan, Bhaktapur, Boudha etc. apart from that places such as Pokhara and Palpa which are outside are also equally famous. Kathmandu is one of the major business hubs.
How to identify a genuine supplier in Nepal?
Picking a right supplier can be like finding a needle in a haystack. There are going to be swarms of suppliers in the market each different from another. So, what should you look for in a supplier? Keep these things in mind:
- Most suppliers seem well established locally, however not all suppliers can meet international standards or demand. So, you might want to check a company’s’ previous history of international exports too.
- Choose an informative supplier over a convincing one because their knowledge can be useful for you in the future too.
- Look out for companies that have been established for at least 5 years. Your trust will be in safe hands.
- If you’re looking for a long-term business lookout for how adaptive the supplier is. In today’s context, check how active they are on various social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter). This will reflect their vision to grow with time.
- Some websites have advanced SEO-search engine optimization while other have very old websites because of which these reasons some websites come forward while searching. However not all of them can be excellent sites.
- Serious and growing companies have an updated and high-quality website these days. Check the company’s’ official site and lookout for details such as informative content, shoppers friendly, use of high quality/ high resolution pictures and so on. This reflects their commitment to minor details which is an important thing to consider while choosing a supplier.
- If you are looking forward to place regular order placements enquire about possible modes of payments from your country or modes offered by them.
- For long term business communication is key. And for a smooth communication, make sure the supplier has good language skills. Preferably English.
- Check for the products appeal. If it seems appealing to you it will look the same to your customers too.
- Request for samples to know about the quality.
- One very practical and good way to know about a company is to check review sites such as Trip advisor and lonely planet. You will find organic and genuine feedbacks of the supplier.
Where can you find the particular handicraft item you’re looking for in Kathmandu?
If you’re looking forward to getting some prayer flags or incense sticks, you can find them at Thaiti or Boudha.
For singing bowls, prayer wheels, tingsyas, statues (both metal and resin) you will find retail stores at Thamel and wholesalers at Etkha and Nardevi, Chettrapati Near Thamel. However most of these shops are Traditional wholesale shops (brick and mortar shop)
The hemp bags can be found at the Paknajol area and the beaded necklaces or bead malas at Jyatha.
How to reach these places and how far are they?
You can reach most of these places by taxi or public vehicles (bus, tempos, etc.) Or if you want to rent a car you can contact a few local shops too.
From Tribhuvan Intl. Airport
Basantapur: approx. 7km
Thamel: approx. 5.8 km
Jyatha(inside Thamel): approx. 5.8 km
Nardevi: approx. 7km
Paknajol: approx. 7 km
Boudha: approx. 4 km
Patan: approx. 7.5 km
*distancse as shown by Google map
Difference between conventional brick and mortar shops and wholesale online shops.
Mostly people who visit trade fair purchase from Traditional brick and mortar shops. These shops are mostly not concerned with regularity or quality. They conduct business in traditional ways and are not very flexible. They are also not open to customization. Since what they have will mostly always be sold and their stock cleared they’re not concerned with maintaining consistent quality. Wholesale online shops have regular prices whereas the traditional shops’ prices are inconsistent as their prices will vary according to the availability of their stocks. Also, traditional shops have no concern and idea about proper packaging of items to be shipped. This can cause items to be damaged on arrival. The modern online shops will have good idea of proper packaging and shipping. While most buyers of traditional shops are one-time buyers, wholesale online shops target more regular buyers.
How to calculate genuine rates of the products?
Firstly, remember that wholesale and retail prices are always going to vary. If you’re going to make a bulk purchase it will be way cheaper than buying a single item. You cannot expect retailers to give you the same prices as bulk orders. However, this can be different if you’re paying for sample pieces. Depending on the seller you can get samples at rates cheaper than the retail price but when you want to take customized samples, then depending on the item and design, the samples can become quite expensive. But when you make the same designs’ order in bulk they get cheaper again.
What to look for in a product? /How to identify the quality of it?
To identify the quality of handicrafts Whatever product you need or want to buy do a little research about it before you visit the market. This way you will get more knowledge about the product. Next if you want to know about products’ quality, then you must visit multiple places consisting the prices. You should not just visit shops in a single place. This way you will know about the quality of the product too. To see quality, see the final finishing of the item because most handicrafts are fully made by hand and to have a fine finishing means that it is really good.
How to use handicraft items made in Nepal?
Remember to use/ care for most handicraft products with utmost care as they are quite fragile and prone to damage of different sorts. For fabric and cloth products such as hemp bags, pashmina clothing, woolen clothing and so on be careful about the cleaning and washing instructions. Some are dry clean only whilst some can require soap free cleaning.
Similarly, for metal items be careful about the use of chemicals, various metals have different reactions to substances and cleaning of each can be specific with only some type of solution. Also store them at right temperatures and environment because they can contract or expand in different environments which might cause them to crack, break or get damaged. Be cautious of the natural storing environment for stone statues and wooden items too as they are prone to biological damages due to humidity, moisture, sun exposure etc.
How shipping from Nepal takes place? What things do you need to keep in mind?
Direct sea shipping from Nepal is not possible as Nepal is a landlocked country and has no access to sea. However, air freight and shipping via near sea ports is a viable option for shipping from Nepal. You need to be careful about the packaging of the item to be shipped. Different items will require different forms of packaging by keeping in mind their shapes, fragility, and cost. There are many cargo and shipping companies in Nepal look out for one you feel is trustworthy and also one that offers you a good rate.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a supplier from Nepal and are in search of a long-term business then you will have to be sharp and look for these qualities. With these things in mind shopping in Kathmandu for local handicrafts will be easy and smooth.