We ask whether it’s time to engage artesanos and fans alike via the social web. This topic is explored in depth in the Slideshare presentation Crafting Our Future (Fabricando Nuestro Futuro) (2011).
Buying from locals assists local economic development. Shopping has great entertainment value and tourists love souvenirs, the reminders of a place where you are not.
On the downside, not all crafts are produced by or benefit local artisans. Nor is production always sustainable. Be wary of buying products made with feathers or animal skins if you’re trying to protect nature!
For travelers, educate yourself before you arrive. The Web is a great way to learn about a country’s traditions. Buy a guidebook and surf the Web.
Figure out your own limits. Are you most comfortable in a gift store or in an artist workshop? Some programs are criticized as ‘hardship tours’ because of the amount of walking involved and rustic accommodations. If that’s not for you, stay in the city.
Other travelers are disappointed if they don’t see every step in the artistic process. Plan ahead!
Making the purchase
In many markets, negotiation is part of the process. Too often well-meaning tourists will drive a hard bargain. If you find something you like, offer what you consider a fair price rather than the lowest possible bid.
Crafting Our Future