- About Us
The Story of Himalayan Trade (See Pictures Below)
Our story begins in 2004, when I was working for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) which is a US government agency that provides loans and political risk insurance for projects overseas in developing countries that involve US investment. OPIC operates much like the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank, and is responsible for putting a modest sum of taxpayer's dollars back into the US Treasury each year.
In 2005, while traveling overseas to visits some OPIC projects in Thailand and Bangladesh, I decided to take a much anticipated side trip to Nepal. After checking into a hotel in Kathmandu, I rang up for a guide. The next morning I met Kishor Shrestha for the first time. His inner warmth was readily apparent and his smile infectious. There was also an air of mystery about him, probably related to the fact that he had been guiding tourists for more than seventeen years. I soon considered myself very lucky indeed to tour the Kathmandu valley with him for two days. The experience was unforgettable. After meeting his family and buying many precious gifts, I returned to Washington DC.
In 2006, I got a call from Kishor. He was unexpectedly in Washington, DC, having come to visit family members and explore business opportunities. After a number of violent demonstrations by young Maoists, it turned out that the Nepali tourist industry was temporarily in shambles. Kishor began to think about moving to the US and bringing his family with him. At the time, I had just bought an investment property in a small tourist spa town about 90 miles outside of Washington, DC called Berkeley Springs. The town, often frequented by a yourg George Washingon, in the WV panhandle along the Potomac. The old Victorian we owned there seemed perfect for a retail store featuring treasures from Nepal, Tibet and the wider region. When Kishor saw the town for the first time he fell in love with it. The only downside were the ghosts he was sure roamed the old Victorian at night. It didn't help any that the building's lower level had housed the first jail in Berkeley Springs.
Soon we were off to Nepal and Tibet on a major shopping trip. What fun. We stayed at Kishor's home in Kathmandu. Constructed of stone and marble, it had four floors, each a separate but identical open apartment. One for each of his brothers' families, one for Kishor's family and one for his parents. Outside was a small Hindu temple and alter which Kishor built himself. I ate a lot of curry and goat, and risked my life countless times on the back of his motorcycle.
During the day, we visited small shops and factories, warehouses and monasteries. Kishor's long standing relationships with suppliers of Nepalese handicrafts and his intimate knowledge of the manufacturing processes used in creating items such as Singing Bowls papoer mache, bronze buddha statues, thangkas, Nepalese jewelry and Kukuri's as well as one-of-a-kind artifacts made it easy for us to meet our goal of setting up a network of long term suppliers for unique and high quality goods. It did not hurt our pricing model that members of Kishor's family owned a shipping concern in Thamel. I remain convinced to this day that it is because of Kishor that we are able to continually source high quality goods at reasonable prices.
In 2010 as the recession hit Berkeley Springs, we moved our store closer to the main street in downtown Berkeley Springs right accross from the small State Park where the healing waters flow. Sales improved and our following continued to grow. In April of 2015, we suffered a setback. A rogue fire burned down eight stores, one of which was Himalayan Trade. Fortunately, we were able to move rather quickly to a larger building with proper character around the corner. In July of 2015, Himalayan Trade and Tour moved to its current location at 81B North Washington St. The pictures you see below were taken in October after we were well settled.
(Writen by Mark Garfinkel)
FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US ANYTIME
Pleae feel free to call us at any time to ask us questions about our products, the store or Berkeley Springs. Our store is open every day but Tuesday and you can reach Kishor at 304-258-0816 during store hours (generally from 10AM to 5PM) except when he is busy. Please understand that when he is helping customers he feels obliged to give them his undivided attention and often can't get to the phone. If he doesn't answer, please try again.
BERKELEY SPRINGS, WV
Everything you need to know about our lovely little art and spa town can be found here: www.berkeleysprings.com
For more information, see our more detailed page on Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
Mark Garfinkel and Kishor Shrestha outside Himalayan Trade and Tour in Berkeley Springs, WV
Inside the store, looking from front to back. Our Thanka room is in the back right which is the way to our storeroom and shipping area.
Another shot from front to back.
Kishor Shrestha and his lovely wife Shova.
I love this little Nepalese shop. The owners are so nice and never pushy. The place reminds me of being in Nepal, which is one of my very favorite places in the world. The treasures here are so fun to look through...jewelry, statues, hippy clothes and bags, traditional Nepalese clothing, singing bowls and Tibetan meditation bells and meditation chimes. They also have some of the most truly unique and beautiful goddess statues I've seen.
This store is full of authentic Himalayan goods. The owner is from Nepal and still visits family there. Owner and staff are friendly, but not pushy, know their stock and are happy to answer questions or just tell about an item. The singing bowls are really very special and the owner demonstrates their various tones with panache. The shawls, skirts, and blouses are lovely and reasonably priced. It is an "experience" to shop here -- like stepping deep into another culture and being surrounded by all that is best about it. Since the November fire on the side street where this shop was originally located, it has moved to the main street.
This is a little off the main drag but so worth the visit. The store is packed full of all kinds of treasures at reasonable prices. The staff is friendly and helpful without being overbearing. They give you your space while you shop and are always happy to answer questions. The last time I went in the fall they had free hot tea waiting for you just inside the door. I always end up finding something to take home, and can circle the store 3 or 4 times and still find something that I had previously overlooked. I've popped in and out of this store for years, and it never disappoints. It's Berkeley Springs, so you are dealing with older buildings that are often large converted Victorian homes. They creak, they lean and they make for small stores packed floor to ceiling with goods. If that's not your thing; do yourself a favor and stop looking at things to do in Berkeley Springs. This is a store full of Himalayan wares. You know how the pizza place smells like pizza, the indo - spice mart smells like curry, the Mexican joint smells like Mexican food, and the head shop smells like incense? Well this store has its own aroma that your schnoz isn't used to suckin' down its breathin' hole. So if you're THAT person; you know the one who gags walking by a Yankee Candle and performs covert ninja operations to pass thru the perfume section of a department store undetected; then this is not the store for you. It's not overwhelming, and it's certainly not bad, it's simply different, and not everyone likes different. Parking is limited since this is on a side street, but hey this is in a walkin' town anyway. It's such a fun little store to explore with a pretty cool staff. If you dig the other specialty shops in Berkeley Springs, you'll definitely dig this place.
Anna Kekesi Kim — 5 star (Facebook) Fall, 2015
A little gem of a store packed full of beautiful things. Most recently there are tapestries worthy of an art museum with descriptions that rival any gallery. If you are in Berekely Springs look for the Store on Main Street!
Heather Osborne — 5 star (Facebook) February, 2015.
Super friendly owner, many amazing things on every shelf.