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TUCoPS :: Scams :: import!.txt

How to Be an Importer (and Pay for Your World Travel)




          
          
          
           How To Be an Importer...and Pay for Your World Travel
          
          "How much?"
               "100 dirhams," answers the young boy, barely
          looking up from his work. 
               You make a quick calculation in your head and
          determine that the cost of the hand-fashioned silver
          bracelet is about $10.  The workmanship is exquisite,
          and you find it hard to believe that these young boys,
          no older than 8 or 9, are able to create such beautiful
          jewelry. 
               "I'll give you 800 dirhams each," you respond. 
          "And I would like to purchase 25 of them." The boy nods
          excitedly and turns to fetch the wooden box filled with
          finished bracelets that is sitting on the table behind
          him. 
               You are wandering the dirt roads of downtown
          Tiznit, a tiny pink-walled city of Berbers situated
          along a caravan crossroads in southern Morocco.  You've
          come in search of merchandise to ship back home and
          resell.  You figure you can sell the bracelets back
          home for about $35 to $40 apiece.  That's a profit of
          300%. 
               Not planning to visit Morocco any time soon? 
          That's OK.  You could buy furs in Finland.  Finland is
          the world's biggest seller of farmed furs.  The pieces
          are well-made and inexpensive.  So you can buy silver
          fox furs in Helsinki along the North Esplanade...and
          then resell them for a warm profit. 
               These scenarios may sound exotic and far- fetched
          at first.  But think again.  Purchasing unusual and
          unique goods around the world, and then shipping them
          to other countries, where they can be sold for
          tremendous profits, is becoming increasingly common
          among travelers who want to see the world but who can't
          afford an endless vacation. 
               Setting yourself up as a small-time importer is
          the next best thing.  It allows you to satisfy your
          wanderlust while earning at least enough to pay for
          your trip.  Plus, it makes all of your travel tax-
          deductible.
          
          One woman's story
          
               Kathleen Rozelle, an interior designer from
          Dallas, Texas, first thought of going into the
          international importing business when she and another
          designer were planning a trip to England to visit
          family.  Once in London, they teamed up for a shopping
          spree.  They shipped their treasures to Dallas, and
          then sold everything to clients and other designers. 
          Within three years, the team made enough money to pay
          for the expenses of their trip (including
          transportation, accommodation, purchases, and shipping)
          -- and earned a $14,000 profit. 
               Confident after that success, Kathleen and her
          family teamed with two other designers for a three-week
          buying trip in France.  They began their buying trip at
          the March aux Puces in Paris, which is open three days
          a week.  The March Biron section of this enormous
          market is the place to search for antiques. 
               Another place to shop in France is Rouen.  All the
          shops here are retail; they are clustered near the
          cathedral and close from noon until 2 p.m. 
               In the south, visit Biot, known for its hand-blown
          glass.  (You'll have to pay more to have these fragile
          items packed and shipped.) Also visit L'Ile-Sur-La-
          Sorgue, where the antique shops are open only two days
          a week.  At Moustiers-Saintes-Marie, an open-air market
          is set up every Friday in the main square.  This region
          is known for its beautiful hand-painted dishes. 
               What lessons can you learn from Kathleen's story?
          
               First, that you must begin by choosing a country
          where you'll feel comfortable doing business.  England
          is a good first choice, because there is no language
          barrier.  (Of course, you should also pick a country
          where you want to travel.) 
               Second, study the market back home.  Is there a
          demand for the items you plan to purchase?  This is the
          most important consideration when deciding what exactly
          to import.  The second thing to consider when choosing
          a product is personal experience.  What do you know
          something about? What are you interested in shopping
          for? 
               If you have a bit of experience with antiques (and
          if you love poking around in the dark and dusty corners
          of antique shops), then go with that.  In this market,
          smaller pieces of furniture, such as chairs and end
          tables, and knick-knacks and art objects that aren't
          easily found back home are the best bets.  (Small
          accessory pieces also make sense from the perspective
          of shipping.  They can be stashed inside the larger
          pieces to conserve space in the freight container.) 
          Always mix your purchases.  On return buying trips,
          purchase what sold well last time, and then buy a few
          new items to test.
          
          The Peruvian sweater trade
          
               Antiques is an obvious market for small-time
          importers.  But it is hardly the only market. 
               Take Annie Hurlbut, for example.  She imports
          alpaca sweaters hand-made in Cuzco, Peru.  It all
          started as a birthday present for her mother. 
               Annie, then a graduate student at the University
          of Illinois, was studying the market women in Peru. 
          She spent her days at the marketplace in Cuzco, working
          with the Andean women, who make their living selling
          handmade tourist goods, especially alpaca sweaters and
          ponchos. 
               Annie planned to fly home to Kansas City for her
          mother's 50th birthday party -- and she needed a gift. 
          She chose a fur-trimmed alpaca sweater-coat made by one
          of the market women.  The present was extremely well-
          received.  In fact, Annie's mother and friends went so
          far as to suggest that Annie had stumbled upon a real
          opportunity.  The Peruvian Connection was born. 
               Annie continued her graduate studies, visiting
          Peru to do research, and then returning home with all
          the handmade sweaters she could carry.  Her mother ran
          the business end of the company from her farm in
          Tonganoxie, Kansas.  Their first customer was a local
          store, which placed a wholesale order for 40 garments. 
               "When my mother told me we had an order for 40
          sweaters, I almost panicked.  I couldn't even remember
          where I had bought the first one." 
               Annie began running small space ads in the New
          Yorker and selling her sweaters across the country. 
          She personally visited the owners of stores in New
          York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and California, asking if
          they'd like to carry her line. 
               By this time, Annie had created her own design,
          patterned after what she'd found in Peru.  She'd made
          the sweaters of the market women into a classic fashion
          product that appealed to upscale boutiques. 
               The business really took off in 1979, when a
          reporter for The New York Times Style Section saw
          Annie's sweaters at the Fashion and Boutique Show in
          New York.  Annie and The Peruvian Connection received
          front-page billing -- which brought in thousands of
          requests for catalogs. 
               Annie has been running her import business for 10
          years.  She spends part of each year at home in
          Kansas -- and the rest of the year in Peru.  Not only
          does her business bring in enough money to pay for her
          regular trips to South America -- but it has grown into
          a big-time mail-order company that provides a living
          for both Annie and her mother. 
               Annie has organized 25 cottage industries in Peru
          that work for her under contract.  She works out the
          designs and patterns, and then hands over the
          production to the Peruvians.  Everything is shipped by
          air to the United States. 
               What words of advice does Annie have for anyone
          considering getting into the international import
          trade? 
               First, don't try to handle the production and the
          marketing yourself.  You end up spreading yourself --
          and your money -- too thin. 
               It's better to come up with a good product,
          something that no one else makes as well, and focus all
          your attention on the production.  It's not that
          difficult (or costly) to set up the overseas production
          of a product.  It's the marketing and advertising that
          can drain you.  Sell yourself once to a backer, and
          then let him handle it from there. 
               Annie's other piece of advice is that you should
          give a lot of thought to where you set up shop. 
          Americans should think twice, she warns, before opening
          a home office for an international importing company in
          New York.  This city is overwhelmed with shipments, and
          you can end up waiting a couple of weeks to see your
          merchandise.  Things go much more quickly and smoothly
          in the Midwest, for example. 
               Another thing to consider is customs regulations. 
          However, Annie assures all would-be entrepreneurs that
          they won't have any problems with customs.  Importers
          bring a lot of revenue into their home country and are
          generally treated well by their home governments. 
               Nonetheless, you will have to pay import duties. 
          In the United States, duty is generally about 20%,
          depending on the type of goods being imported.
          
          Cashing in on Brazil's mineral rush
          
               How much money do you need to go into the import
          business? 
               Harvey and Michael Siegel, brothers born in Long
          Island, New York, did it with about $400. 
               A boyhood fascination with rock and rubble led
          these two to Brazil, where they filled their knapsack
          with $400 worth of agate ashtrays.  This was the
          beginning of Aurora Mineral Corporation, which is now a
          leading wholesaler of semi-precious stone and mineral
          specimens, with a client list that includes the Harvard
          University Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and H.
          Stern Jewelers. 
               The brothers didn't fly down to Brazil with
          armloads of research, deep pockets, and a long list of
          connections.  On the contrary, this was a seat-of-the-
          pants operation.  The Siegels' cousin had traveled to
          Brazil for Carnival the year before, met a Brazilian
          girl, and decided to stay.  He was their only
          connection in the country, and he agreed to act as
          their agent. 
               Having a reliable agent can really make or break
          an import business.  The agent's role is to screen
          products, accompany the importer on buying trips,
          consolidate orders from multiple suppliers, and arrange
          for a shipper to transport your merchandise back home. 
          You can work without an agent -- doing all the legwork
          yourself -- but your job is made much easier if you
          have someone working with you. 
               "It is invaluable to have someone on the spot to
          shop the market constantly," says Irving Viglor, a New
          York-based international trade consultant.  An agent is
          independent and acts as an intermediary in a deal but
          does not take title to the merchandise.  "Pay the agent
          a commission to protect your interest," warns Viglor. 
          "Don't let the vendor pay the commission.  And always
          check references." 
               Aurora Mineral Corporation mines for its minerals
          (figuratively speaking) in the tiny towns of La Jeado
          and Salto Jaqui in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's pampas
          grasslands bordering Uruguay and Argentina.  Actually,
          the local Brazilians do the mining.  They dig for
          amethyst and agate with back hoes on land leased from
          farmers.  The bounty is sold by the kilo from wood
          shacks. 
               North of Rio Grande do Sul is the state of Minas
          Gerais, where quartz crystals, rose quartz, fossils,
          aquamarines, topazes, and uncut emeralds are mined. 
          The finest quality pieces are purchased in their
          natural form and sold to museums or collectors at trade
          shows. 
               In addition to the minerals themselves, the
          Siegels also import decorative pieces made of amethyst,
          agate, and quartz.  The stones are carved into birds,
          grape clusters, coasters, spheres, book ends, ashtrays,
          and clock faces. 
               These finished pieces are culled from one- person
          workshops and larger factory warehouses.  "In Minas
          Gerais, unlike in the south, you deal with many small
          suppliers.  An agent is particularly important here,"
          says Michael. 
               The recent craze for quartz crystal, believed by
          some to have curative powers, has meant big business
          for Aurora Minerals.  The World Prayer Center, a
          Buddhist house of worship in Maryland, mortgaged its
          real estate to pay for its collection of quartz
          crystal, which it purchased from Aurora Minerals
          
          Your Brazilian connections
          
               All Brazilian exporters are required to file
          annually with the Department of External Affairs in
          Brasilia.  These records are accessible, free of
          charge, from the Brazilian Government Trade Bureau, 551
          Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10176; (212) 916-3200; fax
          (212) 573-9406, or their offices in many major
          countries.  If you're interested in going into the
          import business in Brazil, it would be a good idea to
          review these records to find out something about the
          competition you'll be up against. 
               In addition, the Brazilian Government Trade Bureau
          offers free consultations for anyone interested in
          doing business in Brazil.  Other complimentary services
          include use of meeting rooms, conference calls with
          simultaneous translating services (you pay only for the
          telephone charges), assistance with travel arrangements
          to Brazil, and referrals for accountants, lawyers, and
          agents who are experienced with matters of import and
          export.
               The deputy director of finance for the trade
          bureau, Luiz de Athayda, can answer all your questions
          pertaining to the Brazilian economy, banking, and
          financial regulations.  Contact him at the address
          given above.  Or contact the trade bureau's office in
          Washington, D.C., (202) 745-2805.  The Brazilian-
          American Chamber of Commerce publishes a listing of
          trade opportunities for U.S. businesses in Brazil and
          vice versa.  This international swap meet is part of a
          bilingual business newspaper called The Brazilians.  To
          submit a listing (which is free of charge) or to reply
          to a posting, contact The Brazilian-American Chamber of
          Commerce, 42 W. 48th St., New York, NY 10036; (212)
          575-9070; fax (212) 921-1078.  To receive a copy of the
          newspaper itself, call The Brazilians, (212) 382-1630
          in New York or (55-21) 267-3898 in Rio de Janeiro.
          
          Choosing an import
          
               If you're intrigued by the idea of setting
          yourself up as an importer as a way of paying for your
          world travel, but you don't have an idea for what
          exactly to import, attend the Frankfurt International
          Fair.  This exposition, held every August, is known as
          the Cannes Festival of Consumer Goods.  It is the best
          place in the world to preview the latest European
          trends.  Among the exhibits are clocks, tableware, home
          accessories, lighting fixtures, giftware, housewares,
          arts, and handicrafts.  For more information on this
          year's festival, contact Messe Frankfurt Office,
          Ludwig-Erhard Anlage 1, 6000 Frankfurt am Main 1,
          Germany; tel. (49-69) 75-63-64. 
               If you can't make it to this annual fair, you
          surely can make it to one of the other 16
          internationally renowned trade fairs held each year in
          Frankfurt, which has become a mecca for international
          importers.  For a calendar of the fairs and more
          information on how to make arrangements to attend,
          contact Philippe Hans, Frankfurt Fair Representative,
          German American Chamber of Commerce, 666 Fifth Ave.,
          New York, NY 10103; (212) 974-8856. 
               And remember, if you attend any of these fairs to
          do research for your import business, all the costs of
          the trip are tax-deductible.
               A publication that has provided many product
          sources since 1963 is Worldwide Business Exchange, a
          monthly newsletter with hundreds upon hundreds of
          leads, contacts, sources, and resources 
          every month.  It covers not only import sources, but also business 
          financing, channels of distribution, franchises, new products,
          finder's fees, mergers & acquisitions, venture capital, joint
          ventures, partnerships and more.  Information and current
          subscription prices can be obtained from Worldwide Business
          Exchange, Dept. 70197, P. O. Box 5385, Cleveland TN 37320.  
          
          The value of a home-grown import
          
               The import companies that prove most successful are those
          that grow out of a native cottage industry whose product is
          considered exotic or rare back home.  That's why Annie Hurlbut's
          import business is booming.  She discovered a cottage industry
          that was already thriving in Peru -- and then transported the
          fruits of that industry back home to the United States, where
          alpaca sweaters handmade in Indian designs are valued -- and not
          easy to come by. 
               An idea for a similar import is handmade cotton clothing
          from Guatemala.  The colorful and comfortable shirts and skirts
          being made here can be bought for virtually nothing -- and then
          shipped back home, where young girls are willing to spend a
          pretty penny on these fashion statements.  We know of a couple,
          living in Maryland, who travel to Guatemala several times a year
          to purchase the handmade clothing, and then ship the pieces to
          the United States for resale.  Like Annie Hurlbut, this couple is
          not only able to travel to their favorite South American country
          three or four times a year free -- but they are also making a
          comfortable living off of the profits of their small import
          company. 
               The ideas are virtually limitless ... handmade Mexican
          blankets, which can be purchased anywhere in Mexico for a few
          dollars and then resold in the United States for $30 or $35 ...
          brass pots from Morocco, which can be purchased in any shop or
          from any street vendor for about $15; these can be sold in the
          United States for at least twice that...tiny wooden boxes from
          Uruguay, useful as decorative objects or for storing jewelry;
          these sell for $5 or $6 in nearly every gift shop in Montevideo
          and can easily be resold in the United States for $10 or $15... 
          Similar deals can be made between any two countries. 
               Where do you want to go? Which country of the world are you
          interested in exploring? That should be the primary determining 
          factor when trying to decide on an import.  Remember, the whole
          idea 
          is to use the import business as a way of paying for your travel.
          
          An unusual suggestion for the importer in Sulawesi 
          
               In Sulawesi, Indonesia, craftsmen make traditional wooden
          sailing boats using methods little changed from those used
          hundreds of years ago.  These boats, built without hand tools and
          without electricity, come minus an engine, and they have two huge
          steering oars instead of a rudder. 
               Known as an Indonesian pinisi, a boat of this type is a
          cross between a junk and a 16th-century galleon.  The pinisi was
          once the sailing ship of choice among the fierce Bugis pirates,
          who ravaged the islands of Indonesia and conquered much of
          mainland Malaysia. 
               It is possible to buy one of these boats for as little as
          $5,000 or $10,000.  Of course, you must travel to Ujung Pandang,
          the capital of Sulawesi, to do so.  But that's where the
          adventure begins. 
               Once in Ujung Pandang, your first job is to find a reliable
          agent, who speaks the language and who knows something about
          building a pinisi.  One agent is a Mr. Rustum, who can be
          contacted at Jalan 302/10, Ujung Pandang, Sulawesi, Indonesia. 
               But perhaps the most helpful person in the traditional boat
          trade in Sulawesi is a Yugoslavian sailor named Ivo Rebic.  Ivo
          speaks fluent English and Indonesian and has spent two years
          researching traditional wooden boat building.  He is a good bet
          for reliable and enthusiastic local assistance.  Contact him in
          care of Evie Rumagit, Jalan Sumba 86/9, Ujung Pandang, Sulawesi,
          Indonesia. 
               Once you have found an agent, the next step is to find a
          competent builder.  The biggest boat building center in Sulawesi
          is Tana Beru.  At any given time, there are 50 boats being built
          along the palm-lined beach of this seaside village. 
               One of the most respected builders in this area is Usman
          Hasan, an Indonesian Chinese who has the most Western-style
          approach to the boat- building business of anyone in Tana Beru. 
          You can contact him at Jalan Tokambang 072, Bulukumba, Tana Beru,
          Indonesia. 
               Now, you may be thinking, that all sounds intriguing, but
          why in the world would I want to buy an Indonesian pinisi? 
               First, it is a wonderful excuse to travel to exotic
          Indonesia and have the adventure of a lifetime. 
               But more than that, investing the time and money in building
          a pinisi in Sulawesi makes it possible for you to see Indonesia
          free. 
               Before you take off for Sulawesi, contact marinas and boat
          clubs in your area.  Put up notices on the club bulletin boards
          explaining what you're planning to do.  If you're lucky, you may
          be able to arrange for a buyer -- or a sponsor -- before you
          depart for your trip.  But at the very least, you'll build
          interest in your venture. 
               Once your boat has been built and shipped back home, contact
          all those marinas and boat clubs again.  And place small ads in
          boating magazines and newsletters offering your rare and
          authentic Indonesian pinisi for sale -- for several times what
          you paid for it.  You should have no trouble finding a buyer --
          these boats are beautiful and truly exotic in any other part of
          the world.  Any boat lover anywhere would be thrilled at the
          opportunity to own one -- and probably more than happy to pay
          enough to cover all the costs of your trip to Indonesia.
          
          Buy a Chinese junk
          
               Years ago, the harbor at Hong Kong was filled with Chinese
          junks.  These flat-bottomed, high- sterned sailing vessels with
          square bows and masts carrying lug-sails served as floating homes
          for thousands of the island's residents.  Today, these
          traditional junks are disappearing from the harbor.  They are
          inconvenient and uncomfortable places to live.  And few new junks
          are being built. 
               But that is not to say it is no longer possible to buy a
          junk.  You can get one for as little as $8,000 or $10,000.  They
          are listed for sale in the classified sections of local
          newspapers. 
               This gave us an idea.  You could travel to Hong Kong,
          purchase an old junk, and then go on an extravagant shopping
          spree in the myriad antique shops that line the streets of this
          city.  Oriental carpets.  Porcelain and marble statuary. 
          Centuries-old Chinese vases.  Jewelry.  Carved wooden boxes. 
               Then you could pack up all your Chinese treasures, stash
          them in the holds of your Chinese junk, and have your junk loaded
          on to a huge ocean freighter and shipped back home. 
               While your treasure chest is crossing the sea, contact the
          local media of the city where the ship will land.  Send out press
          releases.  Alert everyone in the area that an authentic Chinese
          junk, filled with valuable Chinese antiques, will be landing in
          the city's harbor.  Make it a gala event. 
               All the press coverage of the junk's arrival will help you
          sell the treasures it contains.  You should make enough to pay
          not only for the antiques you shipped home, but also for your
          adventure in Hong Kong. 
               What do you do with the junk? Well, you may decide to keep
          it -- you'd surely be the only one on your block to own one.  Or
          you could sell it.  A Chinese junk is a rare and valuable thing
          outside its home country.  You could sell one back home for
          several times what you paid for it in Hong Kong. 
               The real wealth angle here, however, is not buying a Chinese
          junk.  It's using your imagination to unlock profits that no one
          else ever thought of.  Ultimately, your imagination -- along with
          your patience and energy -- is the key to your fortune.
          
          Before you buy anything...
          
               You can simply take off for parts unknown, with several
          hundred dollars cash (or traveler's checks) in your money belt,
          and buy up a few dozen of whatever strikes your fancy and you
          believe will sell well (and for a premium price) back home.  It
          really could be that simple. 
               But taking off blind can also be a bit risky.  Better to do
          a bit of homework first. 
               Begin by reading everything you can get your hands on about
          the country where you want to travel.  What do the local
          craftsmen make there?  What do they make it out of?  Where can
          you buy it?  How much will it cost?  Will it ship easily? 
               A good first contact is the embassy or tourist board for the
          country where you'll be shopping.  Representatives at these
          offices should be able to provide you with some of this
          information over the phone; most are natives of the country they
          are representing. 
               Also ask a staff member at the tourist board for a listing
          of department stores or specialty shops in your area that carry
          handicrafts or other goods imported from his home country.  Then
          go to see for yourself what is being sold, for how much, and to
          whom. 
               It is also a good idea to introduce yourself to the owners,
          managers, or buyers of a few shops in your area.  Tell them about
          your shopping trip and your plans for importing goods back home. 
          Ask what they would be interested in carrying and what prices
          they would charge. (Remember, most retail outlets mark prices up
          100%.)  You might even get an order before you leave. 
               The other things to investigate before you take off on your
          grand shopping adventure are customs and rates of duty in your
          country.  Explain to your local customs service what you are
          planning to import and to where and ask that you be sent all
          relevant information on clearing customs and paying the
          appropriate duties.
          
          
          Setting a price
          
               Don't wait until you've returned home, suitcases full of
          silver bracelets and brass pots, to determine prices for all of
          your exotic treasures.  If you leave all of this to chance, you
          may be in for a very unpleasant surprise. 
               Instead, do a bit of arithmetic before you even get on the
          plane. 
               Start with the purchase price.  What do you think you'll
          have to pay for whatever it is you plan to buy?  Add the expected
          costs of shipping and duty.  This gives you your total cost. 
          Double it, and you have the cost you can charge the retail
          outlets you do business with.  Double it again, and you have the
          cost the retail outlets will charge their customers. 
               Say you plan to buy wool blankets in Mexico for $8 each. 
          You know the cost of shipping each blanket will be $1, and the
          cost of duty will be $2.  That's a total of $11.  Double this to
          get $22, the cost you should charge when selling your blankets to
          a retail outlet.  Double that again, to get $44 -- that is the
          cost to the consumer.  Is the blanket worth $44?  Is it worth
          more than $44?  Consider the market.  What else is available? 
          How much is it selling for?  Who is buying it? 
               If the total cost to the consumer you come up with sounds
          like too much -- or too little -- make adjustments one way or the
          other.  In the case of the Mexican blanket, for example, $44 is a
          bit high.  The retail outlet may only be able to sell the
          blankets for $35 apiece.  Thus, you can only sell them for $17.50
          apiece.  This means that the most you can pay is $5.75.  It's
          possible to buy blankets in Mexico for $5.75 apiece -- if you buy
          a dozen or more at one time, and if you know how to haggle.  If,
          however, once you get to Mexico, you find that you just can't
          find the blankets you want for the price you can afford,
          reconsider.  Maybe you ought to be shopping for silver earrings
          instead. 
               Remember also that the whole purpose of importing the goods
          in the first place is to pay for your trip.  So, once you've
          arrived at a price, determine how much you will make if you sell
          all of the merchandise you have imported back home.  Make sure
          you'll come out ahead -- or at least even.  If not, reconsider,
          both the pricing and the merchandise you're importing.
          
          The shipping factor
          
               One of the most important considerations for anyone in the
          import business is shipping. 
               The shipper you deal with is responsible for picking up your
          purchases at the shop, packing them, and shipping them back home
          for you in 20-foot containers.  With some shippers, you can
          arrange for a split-container.  This way, the shipper doesn't
          send the merchandise until he has enough going to your city to
          fill the entire container.  Shipping costs about 15% of the value
          of the merchandise when a full container is sent; about 25% or
          more when a partially filled container is shipped. 
               The shipper should provide you with stickers (one is
          attached to every item being shipped), a shipper booklet (in
          which you record the merchant's name, the agreed-upon-price, your
          company name, and a description of the item), and the name of a
          driver, if you need one.  (If English is not spoken in the
          country where you're shopping, you'll need a driver to help you
          find the markets and to negotiate with the merchants.  A driver
          can be expensive -- as much as $75 a day.  But this is a
          worthwhile investment.) 
               How can you find a competent and reliable shipper? Two good
          places to try are your embassy in the country where you will be
          shopping and the local chamber of commerce office.
          
          Tricks of the trade
          
               Always carry a Polaroid camera, a 35mm camera, and lots of
          film with you when shopping for merchandise to ship home.  Take
          two pictures of every item purchased, one Polaroid and one 35mm. 
          Keep two ledgers: one that lists prospects, another that lists
          actual purchases.  This way, if you're unsure of something, you
          can easily go back to buy it later -- you've got a record of
          where to find it. 
               Europe does not have the same type of wholesale market, but
          they do have large wholesalers.  They may not be willing to deal
          with an individual, which is one good reason to form a company
          first.  But if you tell merchants that you are buying for export,
          they'll usually give you a 15% to 20% discount. 
               In some countries of Europe, especially France, the entire
          country goes on holiday at the same time.  In France, it is the
          month of August.  Plan your buying sprees around these holidays. 
               Always keep all of your invoices and receipts.  If your
          merchandise doesn't arrive as expected -- or if you have to prove
          the value of your goods to a customs official -- you will be lost
          if you've accidentally thrown away your documentation.
               What governments won't allow you to import Many countries
          have passed stringent laws against importing many of Mother
          Nature's souvenirs from foreign countries, and many of these
          types of products are protected by international treaties.  These
          laws have been established to protect endangered animal species. 
          Certain plant species are also outlawed as imports.  If you
          ignore the regulations and try to import two dozen pairs of
          Brazilian alligator pumps (because you're sure you can sell them
          back home for a 200% profit, and you simply can't resist the
          opportunity), you risk having your booty snatched.  You may even
          be hit with a hefty fine.  So check the regulations of your
          destination country carefully.
          
          
          


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