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home : business : business May 29, 2016

5/21/2013 1:57:00 PM
Blue Burro Imports opens in Sisters
Amy Abramson displays the crocheted bag that sent her down the path to opening a store in Sisters. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
Amy Abramson displays the crocheted bag that sent her down the path to opening a store in Sisters. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

A thirst for travel and a love for unique, hand-crafted goods sent Amy Abramson into the import business years ago. Now her path has led her to Sisters, where she recently opened Blue Burro Imports at 161 N. Elm St., Unit B (in the big yellow building next to Sisters Market).

Blue Burro Imports features hand-made items from Guatemala, from handbags to colorful clothing and more.

Abramson recalls that when she was 17, growing up in southeast Washington, she became fascinated by a woman who sold imports from Africa and India at a local mall.

"I would stalk her little kiosk," she said. "I was just mesmerized that they could travel three or six months out of the year and come back and have a shop."

Abramson knew that that was the life for her.

"I never really wanted a nine-to-five job," she said.

She began traveling to India, and founded a business called Red Rupee to sell her wares while working at a dentist's office.

"On weekends I would sell at the Fremont Market in Seattle," she said. She branched out into street fairs and music festivals during the summer.

But air tickets to India grew too expensive, and Abramson decided to turn her attention south of the border. Her attraction to Guatemala started with crocheted bags she discovered through another importer. The importer had no bags to wholesale to her, so Amy decided to find them herself.

"I was on a mission for those bags," she said.

She made a buying trip and found them (they're available at Blue Burro) and much more. She has become very attached to Guatemala.

"I fell in love with the people," she said. "They take a lot of pride in their work."

The change from Indian imports to Guatemalan imports necessitated a name change to something more in keeping with her wares. She took the name from a burro mask she found on a buying trip, a mask that hangs in her shop as a mascot.

Abramson had long wanted to open a shop, and she was drawn to Central Oregon. She first considered Bend. But a visit to her best friend during the Sisters Folk Festival changed her course. She loved the feeling of community in the air during the festival, and decided to open Blue Burro in Sisters.

The footloose travel is coming to terms with the reality of retail: She's got to mind the store. Yet she won't give up heading south to Guatemala to hand-select her wares.

"In order to get quality, unique and different, I have to go down there and buy it myself," she said. "I hope I can go at least once a year."

Much remains to be discovered.

"I feel like I could spend a couple of years in Guatemala and skim the surface of what's there."

For more information on Blue Burro Imports, call

541-610-8028, email or visit her on Facebook.

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