For some, though, trinkets aren’t enough. For those who want a more authentic connection to a foreign place — whether it’s for a personal interest or a sentimental value — a new business is opening in Pacific Beach. Creative Treasure, a one-man boutique run by Devin Luther, offers custom service for those in search of something truly unique.
“What do you desire?” the company website asks. “Anything, from anywhere at any time. Nowhere is off limits.”
Creative Treasure specializes in acquiring authentic, hard-to-find items: masks from Africa; fabrics from Brazil; Russian art, crafted during the Soviet era and smuggled out of Cuba.
Creative Treasures caters its services to a very selective clientele. Its customers aren’t looking for a souvenir to put on their mantlepiece — rather, they want an artifact with a story behind it, and they’re willing to pay the costs to have it retrieved.
To this end, Luther documents his entire journey as he searches for each item. When the customer receives the artifact, they also receive recordings of all the factors that got it to their hands: the expedition, start to finish; the history of the item; oftentimes, conversations with the people who created it.
“A lot of these items end up having an emotional or spiritual connection,” said Luther, who is a seasoned globetrotter. He began traveling in his sophomore year of college; after a bout of sickness forced him out of school for a semester, he decided to join one of his friends in Brazil, where they spent five months exploring South America.
Luther and his friend lived for a while on an island, doing dishes at a local restaurant in exchange for room and board. They stayed in a run-down shack, and afterwards traveled north through Venezuela and El Salvador.
“That’s what started it all,” Luther said. “I caught the travel bug, and it hasn’t left since then.” He began working odd jobs in the states, using his earnings to travel the world. He took advantage of the value of the U.S. dollar, making his money last for months at a time. When he later founded a regional bus company, Big Woody Limos, he continued to travel, sometimes conducting meetings over Skype and email.
The idea for Creative Treasure grew gradually. At first it was little more than a side project; his friends would hear he was going somewhere, and would ask him to bring back a souvenir. Then it became a minor source of income.
Now the business is having its grand opening this September. Working on behalf of five customers at once, Luther will travel to Iraq and collect five items at the clients’ behest. Despite the niche market, he expects the business to succeed. He already has a number of enthusiastic investors.
“There’s a lot of people who have seen the rollout of the business and think that it’s amazing,” Luther said. “People haven’t ever seen anything like this before. I think that it can be a service, to be helpful to a lot of people.”
You can find Luther online at www.creativetreasureco.com.
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Find Devin Luther online at www.creativetreasureco.com.