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Dervishians Bring Armenia to Your Fingertips

By Tom Vartabedian on December 12, 2013

What started out as a trip to Armenia in 2005 has turned into a burgeoning enterprise for Ed Baykar Dervishian.

Baykar Dervishian displays a number of items for sale as proprietor of ‘The Armenian Vendor.’Baykar Dervishian displays a number of items for sale as proprietor of ‘The Armenian Vendor.’
Together with his Armenia-born wife Narine, the two have nurtured a business called “The Armenian Vendor,” which travels the circuit at bazaars and conventions peddling anything and everything under the native sun.

It’s America’s answer to the Vernissage—the open-air market you’ll find in Yerevan—with merchandise that stretches the gamut from CDs and DVDs to food, T-shirts, games, and promotional items.

On a recent visit to Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence, I stumbled across a recording of Armen Tigranian’s opera “David Beg,” which I hadn’t heard since my childhood days, and—get this—a scented candle with red, blue, and orange wax.

My shopping was far from complete, and I added an Armenian flag to replace one that’s seen better days, a T-shirt featuring a manual typewriter (nostalgic), and lastly some gift cards from Zadig Orphanage, a place after my own heart.

I had visited that orphanage and was so enamored by the children there and the artwork they portrayed that I wound up sharing my experience with the Armenian press.

On any given day, you’ll find the Dervishians tending to business with three children in tow: Anna, 7, Tanya, 5, and Natalya, 12 months. No, they’re not for sale.

It all adds up to a dedicated, hard-working Armenian family, steeped in the roots of their ancestry and taking every initiative to promote it.

It’s about a guy who graduated from Lehigh as an engineering major with a minor in music who saw a need for Armenian commodities and decided to address it.

Hence their motto: “We bring Armenia to your front door.”

“Growing up in New Jersey, there were no local Armenian stores from which to trade,” Baykar recalled. “Moving to New England, I decided to expand what was already inside the Watertown markets by creating a website (www.Armenianvendor.com) where anyone anywhere around the world could shop effortlessly and buy whatever they wanted. It’s been eight years and has matured immensely on its own.”

Behind every successful man stands his woman, and Baykar is no exception. Without his wife, he admits, there’s no way this venture could have prospered. Narine worked 15 years in finance and puts the experience to work here, juggling her day job with three kids, this business, and housekeeping chores.

They’ve recruited the help of many friends in bringing the products back from Haiastan and getting them sold at various events. Sponsors also get a slice of the pie, so everyone benefits.

“Many Armenian organizations were skeptical about how we would fit into their venues,” Baykar said. “But now, we’re doing picnics and bazaars all over New England and the Mid-Atlantic area. People tell us they attend these events just to browse over our product line and see what they can find.”

Besides music and videos, Armenians are hot after T-shirts and unusual items created by artisans throughout the world. Though by no means a Karsh, Dervishian’s photos of Armenia are another good sell. The stories behind the images are free and entertaining. Children’s toys, books, and educational items are always up for grabs, especially during Christmas.

“Our initial intent was to sell products only from Armenia,” he said. “But having them shipped was way too costly. Since Armenia is landlocked, getting them out of the country became a challenge. Connections with family and friends facilitated our market.”

So he could better help his fellow Armenians, Baykar joined the Knights of Vartan. He’s also been a parish council member at the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators in Framingham and helped start the Armenian school there.

What might surprise you about Baykar is his musicianship. He studied violin in his younger days and went places with his instrument. He was in regional and all-state orchestras in New Jersey along with many pit orchestras for plays and ensembles. Much of that has taken a back seat due to time constraints.

People who know him recognize the stories he’s waiting to tell, even if it might interfere with business a tad. He’s a genuine resource for Armenian products, information, and events.

There’s the one about a bike-a-thon in New York City a few months ago. A priest called to order 40 shirts from his inventory to outfit the bikers, just two days before the event!

“There was no way I could ship them on time,” he said. “It was then that I discovered the power of the Armenian network.”

Baykar hooked up with Talene Khachadurian, president of the New York Armenian Network, for help. They found a participating biker and got together along a highway to transfer the shirts and get them into the proper hands just in time.

The future is today, not tomorrow, for the Dervishians. Depending on time, energy, and finances, Baykar would love to raise the business from a local “mom and pop” operation to one with satellite divisions selling live across America.

The next time you may cross paths with this vendor, drop by and say “Hye.” It just might make your introduction that much more special.

Bring home the fruits of the homeland – virtually

The Armenian Reporter

Eastern U.S. Edition
December 15, 2007:

Framingham, Mass. 7 – With several high-profile stories about Armenia
and Armenians making headlines this year, the Internet has been buzzing with
information to help people understand and appreciate the unique Armenian
culture. For Baykar Dervishian, however, the Internet-age promises to
facilitate more direct connections with Armenia , by giving the world easy
access to Armenian music, decorative handicrafts – and even food. Dervishian is
the creator and proprietor of “ArmenianVendor.com.” An Armenian-American,
he has set out to help his countrymen from the homeland share their talents and
creativity with the rest of the world, while giving the world direct access to
all that Armenians have to offer. “We started our venture by participating in
few local Armenian bazaars, and set up tables with our jewelry and pictures of Armenia.
A year later, we had sold hundreds of pictures and pieces of jewelry.” Since
then their product listing has grown to items ranging from compact discs and
DVDS, to home decor, handmade Christmas ornaments, books, games for kids and
adults, apparel, concert promotions, and more. Dervishian insists that “visiting
Armenia is the best way to experience all that the country and its people have to offer.
However, for those who don’t have that opportunity,

ArmenianVendor.com
aims to bring Armenia to you.” He embarked on his own maiden voyage to
Armenia in 2001, and for the first time, saw, heard, and tasted the country with all its
history, tradition and culture. Through his website, he hoped to capture the
realities of modern day Armenia and diasporan Armenian art in a single accessible location.
Dervishian is proud of what he calls the site’s “cozy interface” which “feels
like you just walked into a far off middle eastern store.” He now actively seeks out new
products to display, and says he’s always open to new ideas and requests. Baykar invites people
to contact him anytime via e-mail at

baykar@armenianvendor.com
In the meantime – and especially with Christmas around the corner – he tells
web-surfers to “kick back, log on, and get your shopping done. Armenia is just around
the corner.”


For Immediate Release
New Virtual Armenian Store, ArmenianVendor.com Creates Competitive Market
For Diverse, Quality Ethnic Products

December 5, 2007:

Framingham, MA, December 05, 2007- Owner and creator of the site, an
Armenian-American, Mr. Baykar Dervishian initially set out to help Armenians from
Armenia share their talents and creativity in the West while allowing the rest of the
world direct access to the quality, hand crafted items the old-school, Armenian
artisans are famous for. Armenian Vendor presents products that are geared towards
our modern day lifestyles, all in a very Bauhaus fashion, putting form before
function.

The little nation of Armenia made some headlines in these last few months
on the political scene. And, although there are plenty of online sources to help one
understand more about the cultures of the Caucasus, ArmenianVendor.com allows
the consumer to absorb the remote culture through its music, heritage, decorative
handicrafts and food.

“We started our venture by participating in few local Armenian bazaars
and set up tables with our jewelry and pictures of Armenia. A year later, we had literally
sold hundreds of pictures & pieces of jewelry.” Since then their product listing
has grown into items ranging from CDs, DVDs, ethnic home décor (including the Water
Pipes that have been popping up as the fashion accessory to bring
old-world charm into one’s home), handmade Christmas ornaments, books, games for kids &
adults, apparel, concert promotions, and more. Dervishian points out that “visiting
Armenia is the best way to experience all that the country and its people have to offer.
However, for those who do not have that opportunity, ArmenianVendor.com brings Armenia to
them.

Dervishian embarked on his maiden voyage to Armenia in 2001 and for the
first time, saw, heard, and smelled for himself, the country with all its history,
traditions and culture that he had only heard and read about growing up in the United States.
For more information about Armenian Vendor or to place an order, please visit
http://ArmenianVendor.com
.

Media Contact: Karine-Isabella Macri
Phone: 718.219.7291
Email: KarineMacri@gmail.com