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Tibetan Arts and crafts opened it’s doors on Territory Days in 2007

Tibetan Art and Crafts Asia on the Westside of Colorado Springs

Bam isn’t the usual person you’ll see behind the counter at Tibetan Arts and Crafts on Colorado Avenue in Old Colorado City. Right now he’s filling in for his wife Loma, who has just had their second child, only 3 weeks old when we chatted recently.

"Bam decided he preferred the more central location of Old Colorado City with lots of people, but without excessive crowds"

Tibetan Arts and crafts opened it’s doors on Territory Days in 2007. After spending his life’s saving on stock it was a challenge to fill the shelves in time for opening. In those early days Bam wanted to offer more variety of products, now the store is packed with all sorts of handicrafts from Tibet, Nepal, India and Indonesia. Every inch of space is filled with clothing, jewelry, statues, ornaments, books, CDs, and an array of singing bowls. Bam will happily show you how to make the ornate metal bowls sing. There is a technique to it, and you might not be able to do it first time, but when you get it right it’s a beautiful sound. With the chanting music playing in the background and the sandalwood incense that fills the air, it’s easy to relax and let yourself be transported to a place far away.

The business started right as the recession took hold forcing Bam to take a second job and for Loma to run the store. In Nepalese culture there are only some jobs that she could take without upsetting their relatives in Nepal. A store owner is one of the acceptable jobs. This was a major influence on Bam and Loma’s decision to start their store. In American culture it’s typical these days for both husband and wife to work, so trying to blend the cultures led to the birth of Tibetan Arts and Crafts.

The business was built in a traditional way, buying and selling, with very little advertising. Nearby stores have failed while Tibetan Arts and Crafts thrives. Bam credits his success to simple hard work – the long hours from he and his wife, their determination to stay open and his willingness to take extra jobs in the beginning. Bam hopes the future of the business is expanding into wholesale and developing a web presence and selling products online.

When Bam took a second job in the early days, Loma was thrown in at the deep end. Having little experience running a store and having only recently immigrated to the US, her English was still not great. She was unfamiliar with the workings of the register and credit card processing machine. Bam was able to help on the phone, as were some trustworthy customers who knew how to run the cards themselves! Five years on they’ve both learned a lot and have kept the business out of the red. Loma’s knowledge of the store technology is now, in Bam’s word’s “Perfect”! He beamed with pride at how far they have both come.

Manitou Springs was almost the original location of the store until Bam decided he preferred the more central location of Old Colorado City with lots of people, but without excessive crowds. He says their village in Nepal has a very similar feeling, and is also nestled next to mountains, giving the west side of Colorado Springs a feeling of home. A place they have no plans to leave any time soon.

You can find Tibetan Arts and Crafts at 2513 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80904 or call Bam or Loma on (719) 447-8856. Stop by and try and make a bowl sing, it’s not as easy as it looks!

This article was originally posted on WestsideFocus.com in 2012.

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