After a few nights of relaxing in Paradiso Hostel at Laguna De Apoyo, we were both very excited to show Caira the different handmade products in Masaya. We jumped on the public bus to take us from Laguna de Apoyo to Masaya, where we planned on staying for a few nights.
Most tourists only visit Masaya for the day, but we were considering actually moving there so that we could find and connect with the local sources of the products we were interested in for our business. The bus took us to the main local market, not Mercado Viejo (the tourist market), which also served as the town’s largest bus station.
The bus station was large, flat, dusty and crowded. There were birds, chickens, cows, sodas, chips, cigarettes and everything else in between being sold by the outdoor vendors spread out everywhere. We were lugging around all of our luggage–aka our home–so we needed to grab a cab in order to get to our hostel. We caught one outside of the market and were soon at our hostel–Hostel Central. We scored a great deal: $10 for a private room for the three of us. It was the best hostel price we’d receieved in Nica so far. We loved the non-touristy prices.
We threw our stuff down and right away and headed to Mercado Viejo. Caira saw all of the products we had written about in a previous article, so she was eager to see it all and we were excited to get feedback from her on what items she liked the most. She was exactly our target market: young, bright, motivated college student with a passion to help the world.We were excited to see what she would buy in the market. It was going to be an afternoon of fun market research.
We walked through the park of large colorful wooden chairs, down the street and into one of the arches of the castle looking market. It couldn’t have been more different than the locals market we were just at.
We took her through the market to a couple of the vendors we remembered having somethings we liked. We showed her the awesome handmade bracelets that we liked so much. There were so many different colors, designs, weaves and styles–we thought the bracelets might appeal to just about anyone with the variety of styles. They were unique, very Nicaraguan and stylish.
She looked at them all and immediately picked out her favorite style. It was so instant and her decision so confident that it almost shocked JB and me. We loved her decisiveness. It was actually a style of bracelet that I hadn’t noticed the last time we were in the market, but once Caira pointed it out, it became my favorite as well. Her reasoning: they’re simple, unique from the other similar bracelets you can find in the states, the color schemes were awesome and they were something she herself would not only wear but would sell to her friends. That was the kicker. Not only did she want to wear it, but she was confident in the success of the products that she would sell them herself.
We searched through the market for all of the vendors that sold the bracelets and negotiated prices with them if they had colors we liked. After a couple of hours of searching and negotiating, we bought our first prototype bracelets. The colors we picked out were not of coincidence. They were strategic. They had a purpose, a marketing campaign and appeal to our target market. We couldn’t wait for Caira to tell us the reaction and feedback from her friends and future colleagues at ASU. We were one step further on the business and feeling good.
But the next day, Caira was leaving so we were very sad that a part of the trio was leaving. Plus, we had to decide if the Laguna de Apoyo hostel opportunity was something we wanted to do for the next three months. We decided to talk it all over at our favorite Chinese food place (the only one in Masaya) with a couple of liters of beer and some Chinese Tacos (egg roles).