Store’s ethnic offerings result of pair’s travels

Trina Ortega
Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

Venture just a little off the beaten path north of Main Street on Second Street in Carbondale to take a trip around the world in the exotic 2nd Street Shop, where owners Ingrid and John Seidel have collections of ethnic handicrafts, shawls, jewelry, carvings and more for sale from their globe-trotting adventures.

Over the years, the retired couple has traveled to 65 countries. And while they have loved the various items they’ve purchased over the years (mostly from ethnic clans and tribes), they are ready to clean house a bit.

“We’re trying to divest ourselves of things,” said Ingrid Seidel, whose unique jewelry and clothing from her personal collections are in display cases and racks in the store.

She always has dreamed of owning a little shop, so they thought they’d try it since they own the property on North Second Street. They opened 2nd Street Station in October with a First Fridays celebration.

“We have the space and the inventory and we don’t have jobs, so it was kind of easy to figure out,” she explained.

Shortly after they opened, however, the two locked up shop to ” of all things ” travel overseas. It was their fourth trip to Thailand, where they collected a few more pieces of silver and silk, toured a family’s jewelry factory and bought colorful grass bracelets from a hill tribe on the Burmese border.

In addition to the Thai gifts, they have gold from India, silk pillowcases from Asia, wood carvings from African nations, light and luxurious Pashmina (goat) shawls from Kashmir, and embroidery from South America.

The shop also features John Seidel’s photographic works and the fine art of other Colorado artists, not to mention an original Bev Doolittle painting.

Whether he’s in his own backyard or overseas in a Third World country, John Seidel always has been an adventurer, curious to see what’s around the bend or on the other side of a “cardboard” ceiling in an old miner’s shack where he found a rare Coca-Cola print that lists for $1,000 on ebay.

“I’ve been knockin’ around in the woods for a long time,” he said.

His parents had lived in Iran for a number of years, which influenced his interest as a globe-trotter, but his traveling blood began to flow fast the year his mother drove the kids to the national parks. “I remember I just really enjoyed it,” he recalled, describing his view from the back seat. When he was in high school, he took a trip to British Columbia.

He met Ingrid in the early 1970s, and they continued traveling, even taking up scuba diving prior to a trip to the land Down Under. “I said, ‘I’m not going to go all the way to Australia and New Zealand without looking at the Great Barrier Reef,'” he said.

She was a Valley View Hospital nurse and would get six weeks off at a time. As a longtime biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, he would save up his vacations around her time off so they could journey to another part of the world ” Indonesia, Micronesia, Guam, Tanzania, Ecuador, Borneo, Fiji, Tonga, Nepal, Turkey ” focusing on Third World and developing nations.

“We never really stayed in hotels. We’d walk off the plane and through customs and the taxi driver was our new best friend. We’d say ‘Let’s go meet our new best friend,'” said John Seidel, who also integrated some trips with wildlife work.

He has conducted studies for the king in Nepal and spent 10 days straight on the ice in Manitoba studying polar bears. The frigid location is the first in Hudson Bay to freeze and the last to thaw so the bears have been able to thrive there. The study is particularly poignant to Seidel now because he knows the population will be lost to global warming, he said, “so, it sticks out in my mind.”

They’ve thought about what their other favorite trips and places have been but have a tough time narrowing it down, although Thailand, with what they described as the friendliest people, is currently at the top of the list. Other contenders are Costa Rica, Dominica and Turkey, and Kenya and Tanzania were memorable for John because of the wildlife.

Mostly, they just love meeting other people and learning about other cultures.

Having studied Spanish at Colorado Mountain College throughout the years, the two are pretty much fluent. They frequent Mexico, visiting a true hideaway in the Yucatan where they are the only “gringos,” but, Seidel added, “I’m not going to tell you where it is. … I’m the only guy who walks there on the beach.”

Their next planned trip will be to Mexico after the holidays.

And while they haven’t booked any tickets, they have ideas of some more trips ” a river cruise down the Rhine or the Rhone or even the Yangtze before it’s completely dammed. Once they decide, they’ll be heading out in March and April, returning a few weeks later to North Second Street with artifacts and stories that bring a part of the world to western Colorado.

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