Treasure Hunting Ian Grant scours the globe for exotic goods for his Minneapolis store, Björling & Grant. Each piece has its own valuable story. Budget Travel Tuesday, Sep 22, 2009, 12:00 AM (Courtesy Ian Grant) Budget Travel LLC, 2016
 

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Treasure Hunting

Ian Grant scours the globe for exotic goods for his Minneapolis store, Björling & Grant. Each piece has its own valuable story.

(Courtesy Ian Grant)
A robe from Bhutan (Courtesy Ian Grant)

1. Study the market
In Kathmandu, I was searching for a rare conch shell used to call monks to prayer. I found a few and haggled to see what they were going for. Then I spied a stunning one encrusted in turquoise. I got the vendor down a little, to $170, but we both knew this shell was exceptional—and priced right.

2. Shop out of the box
Getting into a dugout canoe in the middle of the rain forest in Suriname, I stepped over a pair of carved wooden paddles unlike any I'd seen before. I inquired with the boat owner, who sent me to the paddle maker, in a nearby village. I bought five, for $40 each.

3. Factor in personal experience
On my first trip to India, I whiled away afternoons in Darjeeling wandering the stores and bazaars. I ended up paying $150 for a robe that came over the mountains from Bhutan. Even if it was "too much," it will always remind me of that trip.

4. Let passion guide you
I bought a marble elephant at the Taj frickin' Mahal—the quintessential tourist-trap item, for $185 no less. Buying it went against all my rules. But I just wanted it. It's still in my living room.

Ian Grant's show The Relic Hunter debuts October 3 on the Travel Channel.

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