I assume you know what the world’s oldest profession is so I will not illuminate further, but few people know what the World’s Second Oldest profession is. I submit that it is the caravans of traders crisscrossing the landscape since time immortal on the silk road to far off destinations.
Up until recently, I defined my way of business as the second oldest profession. I have been upholding caravan trading traditions that ended decades before I was born. The modern version of the caravan has come down to the Gypsy or Hippie Van filled with exotic goods.
Around the mid-sixties when the sociological culture known as Hippies was being born, there was a great spiritually motivate migration to the Far East. To support this lifestyle innovative hippie entrepreneurs started importing all manner of Ethnic goods from the cultures of Asia China’s silk road economic belt.
This was the re-birth of the second oldest profession. Vans loaded with all manner counter culture products from Incense to Buddha Statues started to supply the lifestyle industry that was emerging from the hippie pop culture of those times.
It was a good time for this creative product line and many of the van dwellers grew into full on business in their next incarnation. As hippie gave over to New Age, the whole industry slowly evolved into business as usual,…. or did it?
There are always a few individual who resist the flow of society and business as usual. I fell into that crack and I am just emerging now after 15 years of driving that van across 20000 miles and 25 states every year.
My motivation was lifestyle. I really liked traveling and taking lots of time to meditate in exotic ashram and sample world cultures. I didn’t want to have to be a 9 to 5 business marching along the work a day path to economic enlightenment. The money was always secondary.
Time marched on and I finally had to come up with a new vision. I could not continue to resist the change in the fabric of society and here’s why: First, it’s been along time since Woodstock. I started doing this business in 1992 during a brief renaissance period of the second Hippie subculture primarily spirited on by the Grateful Dead band from the sixties and their following of Deadheads.
This era re-enlivened interest in hippie culture and gave The Himalayan Traders a great opening. We road that wave far beyond it’s crest and followed the rise and fall of many an alternative store nationwide. Our stores visited and service in those year number over 1000.
Slowly the pop culture shifted away from hippies stores, away from bead stores, and even away from New Age stores to a very few outposts of alternative spirituality shops that were few and far between.
Another factor is the price of Gas and Hotels. It has skyrocketed on both fronts. As I got older sleeping in the van became less appealing and my wife simply refuses. What to do? Spend, spend, spend and there goes your profit margin.
Along about 8 years ago we discovered eBay and made our presence known with reasonably good success. We also got a basic website and struggled through all of the mishaps of bad designs and dysfunctional programs. Sound familiar? It was a tough learning curve.
Now with a baby on the way, we are ready to retire the van. A few of are old store accounts remain, but now our focus is on-line. The van sits in a lonely corner of the garage still shelved up and fully load for the store we still service, but now the epicenter of my work resides in the back office with all of the latest programs and training videos awaiting this new frontier.
Quite honestly, I will miss those road adventures, but every adventure has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Besides, with our new on-line presence we can service accounts everywhere in the global community and travel the fiber optic highway with our caravan of electrons.
Creativity and change really define the human experience. Evolve or become extinct. I guess we’ll just have to ‘keep on truckin’ in the marketing form that befits this high tech era. Being on-line is the evolution revolution solution, so we might as well embrace it. See you in cyber-space!
I am the original Himalayan Trader. I go to Asia to do adventure travel, meditation, & trading. The Himalayan Traders is from the ‘Small Is Beautiful’ lifestyle philosophy. In Buddhist thought, Right Livelihood is considered essential for the layman’s spiritual path. As a Buddhist layperson, I have tried to embody this ideal through The Himalayan Traders.
To support the intreped spiritual wandering I have created the Himalayan Traders (www.himalayantraders.com) Most of our goods come from the Royal Kingdom of Nepal. In ancient times, large parts of Nepal were Tibetan territories, so the cultures are blended quite a lot. The mountain people are generally Buddhist while the people of Kathmandu valley are a mix of Buddhist & Hindu.
In 1959, and thereafter many Tibetan refugees came to Nepal to escape the invasion of Tibet by China. The Tibetan refugees have worked hard and created new homes and businesses in Nepal. We buy directly from these Tibetan people and the various other ethnic peoples of Nepal. Most of our suppliers are small family businesses and craftsmen. There are no child laborers and the prices paid for goods provide a comfortable livelihood for these people.
One of the Buddhist beliefs that I adhere to is that we are all evolving together and everything is interconnected. For this reason, it is good to share some of the responsibility for helping society. In an effort to give some support for Buddhist study, we are sending up to 50% of our profits to support Tibetan people and Relief Projects of compassion.