Finding a Profitable Niche…In Ecuador

David and Sandy Kraft were living in a cabin in the small town of Hayesville, NC when one evening David asked, “What do you think about retiring overseas?”

Sandy replied, “I’d love it. Where…FranceItaly?”

Ecuador.

These days, David and Sandy enjoy spending their spare time strolling along the cobblestone streets of Cuenca…always finding something new to enjoy and admire.

They often pop into little cafes for an inexpensive almuerzo—the fixed menu lunch. At weekends, they regularly head for the subtropical warmth of the Yunguilla Valley, situated in a lower elevation about an hour outside of Cuenca.

It’s a lovely life.

But initially, Sandy was less than impressed with David’s suggestion. In October of 2013 she reluctantly accompanied him to the colonial city of Cuenca so they could put his “crazy” idea behind them.

It didn’t take long for Cuenca’s charms to work their magic. The spring-like weather, colonial architecture, low cost of living, and especially the friendly locals soon had Sandy singing a different tune.

“After three days I felt like I had come home,” she recalls. “I shocked David by saying I didn’t want to go back to the States. I told all the wonderful people we met that we would be back in 90 days.”

Sure enough, in January 2014 they returned with 10 suitcases, two cats, and as much carry-on as they could bring.

David and Sandy love everything about their new hometown—the warm and friendly people, spring-like weather, low cost of living, and mountain vistas. David says, “We don’t have a single regret about moving to Cuenca. Everyone we have met here has been so helpful and pleasant, and so tolerant of our limited Spanish.”

“The bread, fruits, and veggies here are wonderful, but as Southerners we found the bacon to be, well…not so great,” says Sandy. “So we started experimenting with different methods of making our own.”

The couple had a custom smokehouse built on the rooftop terrace of their home and found a local butcher who could produce the specific cuts of pork bellies necessary to produce the highest quality product.

“We started doing this solely for ourselves,” says David. “But almost immediately we found ourselves besieged with requests from friends and neighbors who tasted our savory bacon.”

At first they sold only to individuals, but before long local restaurants were asking to carry their bacon based on customer requests.

What started as a hobby quickly grew into a cottage industry…and a nice income.

“We have had many inquiries to expand beyond Cuenca but it’s not going to happen. We have a wonderful niche here and are very comfortable remaining in that niche,” says David.

Lifestyle comes first for the Krafts.

“Even the time we spend ‘working’ is social and fun, since friends often help with the food preparation. Who knew that through our hobby we would meet so many great people,” says Sandy.

“We came to Cuenca to retire,” says Sandy. “We’re amazed that our simple interest in enjoying delicious bacon would have turned into a successful business. We feel lucky and blessed to share our products in this beautiful city with so many wonderful friends.”

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