“Kathleen, your move, Paris to Panama City, wow. To take yourself, your family, and your business to the next level like this, all in more ways than one, is an amazing thing. Congratulations on taking this leap.
“I was on your mailing list when you were in Paris and writing from there.
“I’ll make this short. I have a desire…
“A short story you wrote years ago about the guild system in Ecuador really piqued my interest. I am re-inventing myself, as a recent retiree, and hoping to make a new venture of an old hobby and go into the Jewelry business. So I’m thinking about Ecuador. Does Ecuador have a jewelry-making industry? Small things, like earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.?
“I am a 63-year-old semi-retired salesman, single, with only US$1,400 a month retirement income, living alone in Montana. I am good here if I can be frugal, and I am saving a bit. But I have the travel bug, and I would like to marry my two desires!
“My dream would be to live in Ecuador in what are the off months here, Thanksgiving through March. Living somewhere in Ecuador and buying small jewelry items for resale back here in Branson when the tourist are here each year.
“Please tell me that there is an opportunity here with this?”
–Clark M., United States
Yes. Ecuador presents a great import-export opportunity. Over the years, I’ve known a number of people who have acted on it, none in a big way, but all successfully for fun and for profit.
As you say, Ecuador enjoys still today a traditional guild approach to manufacturing. Different towns specialize in different kinds of goods–baskets, hand-carved wooden santos, leather goods, woven goods, and, yes, jewelry. You could have a great time shopping for jewelry bargains to be resold back in your U.S. home for good profit. Keep the operation small, carrying the goods back and forth with you in quantities that don’t trigger customs issues, and this could amount to a great way to supplement your retirement income…while indulging and developing a personal interest.