On a 1990 trip to South Asia, we walked into the middle of a peoples’ power revolution in the mountain kingdom of Nepal. The absolute monarchy had become highly unpopular and the people rose up in revolt for a chance at democracy. It was a harrowing but inspiring experience for us. Most of Kathmandu was shut down or too dangerous to explore, so we were limited to the tourist district of Thamel. Shopping was our only recourse. We were captivated and bewildered by the quality and variety of arts and crafts and gemstone jewelry. Luckily, we met a silver jeweler who turned out to be a highly trustworthy dealer, and we took the plunge on a small order to subsidize our travels. We opened Tradewinds that same year. Seventeen years later, Tradewinds is a thriving emporium in Burlington Vermont. Since that first trip to Asia we have returned more than fifty times; and have expanded our buying range to India, Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, China, Italy and Mexico.
Almost all of Tradewinds’ products are personally imported by us. We handpick everything. As there are no middlemen in the US, we can offer extremely attractive prices, as well as exotic items that wholesalers would not usually import. We select most of our choice gemstones in Jaipur, India, which is the world’s biggest gem cutting center. This allows us to offer you gem choices not normally available, especially in silver.
Most of our suppliers are small family businesses, and almost all of the goods are produced by artisans working in their homes. We feel that this is particularly beneficial for the workers. They can stay in their villages without being forced to migrate to urban centers in search of scarce factory work. Traditional arts and techniques are kept alive, and as the artisans’ talents are in demand, they receive better wages than the average worker. In a developing world country, unemployment is a major issue. We feel proud to be helping people earn a decent living where none would otherwise be available.
The range of goods in our Burlington location includes silver and gold jewelry, plus a large collection of wood carvings, ceramic pottery, brassware, Hindu and Buddhist statuary, antiques, ritual objects and thousands of items too numerous to mention. Tracking down all these products is a big job, and we spend about six months a year traveling the world searching for treasures. It has been an amazing adventure.
We hope you enjoy our website, and please come visit us, David and Diana McLeod, at our store in Burlington, Vermont.