Things you find in one place in the world and nowhere else.
Here we're not talking art trade or large-scale business. Not really souvenirs either. Just small things that you like to bring back home. Of course, with globalization, this is becoming narrower and narrower. Quite often, the things that you've carried across half the world can actually be found at an exotic shop near your home... How frustrating.
There is one category which still gives plenty of room for discovery: candy and treats.
I believe that what defines peoples is what they consider a treat. Is it candy? candied fruit? dried squid? Even within the realm of western food, shapes, tastes and brands wildly differ from one place to another, perhaps more than any other item...
Here is a selection of my global shopping sample.
Green tea marshmallows
Okay I'm still not sure of the origin. The packaging is definitely Japanese in style, but I think I remember they are made in China. Anyway, my source is at the Shanghai airport shops.
Imagine a marshmallow with green tea flavor and a mellow heart inside. Mmmmh.
Also exists with black sesame flavor, equally good.
桂林西瓜霜 Guilin's watermelon frost: nothing frosty really, and it doesn't contain watermelon, but it is an effective cure for pharyngitis.
贴膏 Plaster with ointment, against back pain.
Quirky embroidered t-shirts
ón), cured pork loin (lomo)
From the US
From the Czech Republic
Bowls! Even when mass-produced, Japanese bowls can be really nice and of high usage value.
Fresh waffles and fancy chocolate!