Shop Talk

Greetings! I’m Kathy Bacon, a seasoned explorer and recent retiree who has traded the rainy days of Seattle for the sun-kissed shores of Mazatlán. As I settle into the rhythm of retired life, I’m excited to share my experiences and discoveries through the lens of a newcomer in Mazatlán. Armed with a pen and fueled by the passion, I am eager to bring the “Shop Talk” narratives to life. Every shop has a personality, every owner a unique journey, and I can’t wait to be the storyteller who unveils these hidden chapters, celebrating the entrepreneurship and spirit that make Mazatlán’s local businesses so special.

[The latest article appears on top…M Spa; Legado Zapoteco; Art Shop Gallery/Art Shop Boutique; Garcia’s Gift Shop; Designer’s Bazaar; Salty Feet.]

Inside M Spa.

By Kathy Bacon, April 2024

The spa’s name, M Spa, derived its significance from Marcella’s son. Initially hesitant to have it solely named after herself, Marcella’s son proposed that the ‘M’ could symbolize various meaningful words. Thus, “M” stands not just for Marcella, but also for Mazatlan, embodying its serene beauty; Mother, evoking nurturing care; and Magnificent, reflecting the spa’s commitment to excellence. Marcella Sereno was  born in Senora, Mexico. She exudes a serene aura as we discuss her cherished business, which she manages with unwavering devotion and a heartfelt belief in the importance of self-care for all. Being bilingual, plus her composed demeanor, reflects her dedication to creating a space where everyone feels valued and deserving of nurturing themselves.

Marcella honed her spa management skills through years of experience – first at a spa in Houston and then at a prestigious establishment in Estrella del Mar, catering to a diverse clientele including PGA golfers, local residents, and tourists. These experiences provided her with invaluable insights into the nuances of top-tier customer service and the art of self-care. Empowered by her learnings, Marcella embarked on her own venture, driven by a vision to create a spa that prioritized holistic well-being and unparalleled customer satisfaction. She was determined to carve out a unique space in the industry, offering something truly exceptional to her clients.

Marcella’s humility shines through as she directs the spotlight onto M Spa’s offerings and its impact on customers. Her unwavering focus lies in delivering a diverse range of treatments that cater to the holistic needs of her clientele. Yet, beyond pampering her guests, Marcella’s heart extends to her local community. One notable initiative is her partnership with Amigo de los Animales, a beloved local animal shelter in Mazatlan. When customers purchase gift cards for massages, a portion of the proceeds goes directly to support this noble cause. Additionally, Marcella generously provides the shelter with M Spa gift cards to sell, contributing further to their financial well-being. It’s evident that for Marcella, the essence of success lies not only in business achievements but also in making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Marcella is eager to share the multitude of ways you can indulge at M Spa. “Think about yourself, love yourself, take care of yourself first. We need to have love and peace within ourselves,” she emphasizes. At M Spa, Marcella prioritizes customer satisfaction above all else.

When Marcella offered me a free facial, I jumped at the offer. I couldn’t help but picture myself relaxing on a bed in one of their calming rooms with soft music and spa like smells around me. Rossy  asked me to remove my clothes from the waist up. I thought that was odd because I was only having a facial. I was given a towel wrap that had Velcro at the top and I relaxed and waited.

Rossy started by thoroughly cleansing my face to remove any makeup, dirt, and oil. This step helped prepare my skin for the further treatment she was going to provide. Rossy’s facial included a facial massage, which helped to relax my facial muscles and improve circulation in this 66 year -old skin. The massage involved gentle strokes, kneading motions, and pressure point techniques. It was heavenly!  Rossy was so gentle and meticulous. After the massage, she applied a mask tailored to my skin type. Masks can have various purposes, such as hydrating, purifying, soothing, or firming the skin and she knew exactly which one was right for me. It was left on for a certain amount of time to allow the ingredients to penetrate my skin. Once she removed the mask, Rossy applied serums or moisturizers to further nourish and protect my skin. Then there was a rose mist sprayed on my face which was so refreshing. I forgot where I was for a minute, that’s how relaxing it was for me.

Rossy surprised me by incorporating a neck, arms, and hands massage into my facial session at M Spa. Her attention to detail was evident when she kindly asked me to remove everything from the waist up, revealing that this experience would extend beyond just a facial. It was a delightful surprise to find myself not only receiving a facial but also indulging in a luxurious upper body massage. M Spa truly exceeded my expectations, offering a level of relaxation and pampering that I hadn’t anticipated.

Owner, Marcella Sereno

I had planned to apply makeup after my facial since I had errands to run afterward. However, my skin felt so incredibly refreshed and radiant that I decided to forgo makeup altogether. The bathroom at M Spa was impeccably clean and stocked with everything needed for a quick refresh before heading out. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could even shower before and after my treatment if I wished. The level of attention to detail and comfort truly impressed me. I wholeheartedly recommend M Spa for a day of self-care. Taking the time to prioritize my well-being made me realize that I can’t be my best self without proper self-care. Trust me on this – give M Spa a try for their wide range of services. You’ll thank yourself later.

There are two massage rooms – Individual or couples massage rooms. Note the ensuite bathroom to the left, each with a shower.

Here’s my friends experience with a relaxing massage: When Kathy asked me if Id like to try a massage at the new M Spa I took a deep breath and said when and where, Im there! I am very particular and am used to RMTs – registered massage therapists – who have had the rigorous three -year training. My experiences in Mazatlan spas have been hit and miss. Given how clean the rooms are, how quiet the space is and how professional the owner, Marcella, is I was anticipating a decent massage. Marcella greeted me with a bottle of water and a proper form to fill out [this is a first for me in Mazatlan] asking about injuries, medical conditions along with the usual phone number and address. Right away I was impressed by that detail.

Denisse, my massage therapist in a smart uniform, ushered me into a lovely room, gave me a robe and showed me the spotless bathroom where I could change. Im a little shy, so I was thrilled when she offered disposable panties. Another detail I had never experienced in a spa. As I relaxed to quiet music Denisse worked her magic for one hour. It wasnt a decent massage, it was amazing, so professional and being a woman of a certain age, having had oh, 2,000 massages in my lifetime, I know when a massage therapists understands the kinesthetics of the body. Denisse knew when to apply pressure and when to ease up.  Denisse covered my head in a warm towel for a gentle scalp massage – no oily hair! And after the massage I was also carefully wiped down in another clean towel which was almost a massage in itself. During the entire time there was not a single sound – other than the tranquil music.  Not a voice. Not a phone, no payment transactions, all serene and quiet. I glided out of M Spa and made a note to book an 80-minute relaxing massage for $800. There are some terrific spas in Mazatlan – that are suited for bridal parties, for Quinceañeras etc. but I recommend M Spa for a private, professional, relaxing me time’ massage.”

Update: two weeks later: “During the 80 minute massage: Denisse ‘s magic hands found all the tight areas in my upper body and neck, and then she applied a smooth hot stone treatment as I continued to completely relax. After the hot stones had been removed, she rubbed in a muscle relaxer cream [a little tingly but oh, so good] bundled up my upper body and gave me a deep foot massage. Once she finished the foot massage [sigh] she wrapped up my feet in warm towels. Let’s see – a perfect massage incorporating hot stones, a special muscle relaxer and a foot massage. I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced such a divine combination. When I changed in the spotless bathroom and met Marcella in the reception area, Marcella told me that she believes in a holistic approach to massages and feels it all should be incorporated – and that can be done in an 80 minute massage. Yes it can.” A “relaxing message” can mean many things in Mazatlan. At M Spa it means a professional masseuse who knows the body, yet doesn’t go too far to damage the tissues. It’s a fine line, but the massage therapists at M Spa have had proper training. It’s not a “tourist massage” – all oils and hot towels. These women are dedicated, and careful. You’ll be in good hands. MaztlanLife paid full price for this 80 minute massage.

[M Spa is located on Constitución #615, just east of Topolo Restaurant Wine Bar and across the street from Casa Hindie Tea Room. It is  handicap accessible, and open Monday to Saturday from 10 am. to 6 pm. By appointment only: 669 229 2413, 669 991 3308, if you do not speak Spanish, please ask for the owner Marcella who is fluent in English. Six massages are offered, from relaxing, to deep tissue to reflexology – prices vary from $500 to $1200 depending on your choice. There are six facials – from $300-$950. And 12 choices of feet and hand care” – $120-$680. A foot massage is $30. Be sure to ask about the men’s day and women’s days specials. On Monday & Wednesdays there is a Podiatrist that does medical pedicures by appointment only. If you wish something very specific Marcella will arrange for it ahead of time. Credit cards accepted. Full disclosure – MazatlanLife was offered a free facial and a free massage for this review. MazatlanLife tipped the employees.]                                  

Inside Legado Zapoteco – meet the family dedicated to preserving Zapoteco Oaxaca weavers.

By Kathy Bacon, March 2024

Luis Ruiz’s family has been preserving Zapotec weavings- an ancient art form spanning 2,000 years… each purchase serves as a lifeline for Oaxacan families…

Luis Ruiz dedicated owner of Legado Zapoteco.

Allow me to introduce the essence of this shop by delving into the significance of Legado Zapoteco. This term encapsulates the profound legacy of the Zapotec people, a prominent tribe hailing from the state of Oaxaca. At the heart of this establishment lies a profound tribute to this legacy through its exquisite Zapotec weavings—an ancient art form spanning over 2,000 years, meticulously preserved and handed down through generations. Owners and stewards of this vibrant emporium, Luis and Esmeralda Ruiz, are steadfast in their commitment to perpetuate this heritage, envisaging a seamless transition to their son in the future. Luis’s unwavering dedication of supporting the families of Oaxaca resonates palpably in his every word and action, underscoring the profound importance he places on community enrichment.

Greca weaving, $1,750

Due to the hardships his father endured in his youth, his father was driven by a fervent desire to afford his own family a better life.  Luis’s father and mother sought opportunities in California drawn by the promise of employment and financial stability. In his hometown, Luis stood out as a visionary, harboring dreams of establishing a business to uplift the weaving families of Oaxaca—a daunting ambition given the region’s profound poverty. Undeterred by the challenges, Luis embarked on ventures in Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta, only to encounter setbacks and eventual failure. Amidst the sting of disappointment and self-perceived failure, Luis reluctantly sought employment as a travel guide in Puerto Vallarta, wrestling with feelings of inadequacy for not realizing his vision. However, the families he aimed to support, buoyed by unwavering faith, reassured him of their steadfast support and urged him not to relinquish his dreams. Encouragement from an unexpected encounter—a ship captain—resurrected Luis’s spirits, propelling him to explore new horizons. Inspired, he turned his gaze towards Mazatlan, where tourists flocked, reigniting his determination to transform his aspirations into reality.

Zapotec Loom.

Refusing to succumb to defeat, Luis asked his father for assistance. Armed with 2,000 pesos and unwavering determination, they embarked on a quest to Mazatlan in search of a humble space to establish a shop in support of Oaxaca’s weaving families. Despite exhaustive searches along the bustling thoroughfares yielding no results, fatigue and discouragement failed to dampen their spirits. “Dad, let’s go have dinner, my treat!” Luis suggested, offering a momentary reprieve from their arduous endeavor. Serendipity intervened as they strolled down an unfamiliar side street, where a fortuitous sight awaited them—a man hanging a “For Rent” sign. Seeing it as a sign, negotiations commenced promptly. Even from afar, plans were meticulously crafted with the landlord as Luis and his wife Esmeralda ventured to establish Legado Zapoteco, bridging the gap between Mazatlan and Oaxaca’s weaving communities.

Alebrijes – no two are alike – every artist gives the spiritual animal its own unique traits and personality. $130-$6,000.

Thanks to Luis’s established rapport and trust within the Oaxacan community, negotiations flourished, enabling the families to entrust their cherished weavings to the opening of the shop, Legado Zapoteco. Within these walls, the rich tapestry of Oaxacan craftsmanship unfolds, showcasing the mastery of three distinct looms: the Chite loom for cotton, the Zapoteco loom for rugs, and the Backstrap loom for table runners. Every shelf and rack adorned with these exquisite creations narrates tales of tradition and skill. Complementing the textiles are Alebrije sculptures, meticulously handcrafted from paper, cardboard, or copal wood, boasting vibrant hues and whimsical forms, alongside unique clay pieces crafted by women.

Clay figurines crafted by the women of Oaxaca, $180-$3000.

Adding to the allure are blown glass artifacts, resplendent with captivating colors. Each purchase at Legado Zapoteco serves as a lifeline for Oaxacan families, perpetuating their legacy and embedding their stories within every cherished piece.

This unique design is $6,000.

“Art is a deeply personal experience, perceived uniquely by each observer. When you purchase a weaving from Legado Zapoteco, you’re not merely acquiring a decorative piece for your home; you’re acquiring a tangible fragment of someone’s life,” explained Luis earnestly. “Allow me to elaborate,” he continued, his voice carrying the weight of cherished memories. “I recall watching my father spend hours at the loom, weaving with unwavering dedication. In those moments, he wasn’t just crafting a textile; he was envisioning a better future. He’d plan meticulously, allocating the proceeds from his work to provide for his children’s needs and support his family.” Luis reflected, “Every thread woven is imbued with the weaver’s soul—a testament to their passion and commitment.”

Coasters – ideal for hot or cold drinks, absorbs condensation during Mazatlan’s humid summers, $120

“As a final thought,” remarked Luis, his tone carrying a profound sincerity, “the individuals whose creations grace the shelves of this shop are more than just suppliers—they are my family. While friends may rally around you during times of prosperity, true family remains steadfast, offering unwavering support through every triumph and trial.” Reflecting on Luis’s devotion to his Oaxacan kin, it’s evident that his impact transcends mere business transactions. At just 26 years old, Luis’s profound dedication to preserving his people’s legacy is truly remarkable. By providing a platform for artisans to continue the traditions of their ancestors while earning a livelihood, he exemplifies a rare blend of youthfulness and wisdom. Yet, Luis humbly emphasizes that the significance of Legado Zapoteco extends far beyond financial gain; each piece carries within it a profound vitality—an essence that resonates deeply with those who encounter it. Witnessing the generosity and compassion of this young man with an old soul is nothing short of inspiring.

Hand blown glasses, $120.

[Legado Zapoteco is located on Carnaval #1315,669 319 1061. Open every day from 10 am – 9 pm, even on holidays. Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards accepted.]

 

 

Inside the Art Shop Gallery and Art Shop Boutique.

By Kathy Bacon, March 2024.

In the heart of Centro, there resides a formidable businesswoman who presides over two exquisite establishments: The Art Shop Gallery and the Art Shop Boutique. Yet, her unassuming demeanor belies her remarkable achievements. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Tanya Hoppe exudes humility and possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of her wares. In her, one finds a wellspring of inspiration and innovation, underscored by a profound self-reliance. Tanya’s ethos transcends mere commerce; she is driven by a noble purpose—to empower women in supporting their families through the sale of handcrafted treasures sourced predominantly from Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. In her shops, each item tells a story, a testament to her unwavering dedication and commitment to her community.

Tanya Hoppe owner of The Art Shop and The Art Boutique.

“I may excel in business, but relationships have always been my challenge,” admits Tanya. Her journey through relationships is a saga that have blessed her with four remarkable children and a cherished home in Mazatlan. Today, we’ll illuminate the myriad positives that emerged from her trials, acknowledging the resilience and tenacity that define her. Tanya’s narrative underscores that her current success was hard-earned, far from a leisurely stroll in the park.

Hand-painted coffee cups made by artistic women of Michoacán. $180.

Tanya’s indomitable spirit in business stems from the formidable work ethic instilled by her German father and Mexican mother from her earliest years. Born in Acapulco, Tanya was raised in an environment where hard work was not just a virtue but a way of life. At the age of four, her family relocated to Pátzcuaro, driven by her father’s pursuit of employment opportunities. It was here that Tanya’s fascination with artisanal crafts was kindled, inspired by her German grandmother’s herbal ointments and her other grandmother’s lotions. “Observing my grandmothers crafting these products intrigued me,” Tanya reminisces. “In Michoacán, I was surrounded by a community of artisans, witnessing firsthand how families collaborated to create and sell their handmade goods for livelihood.” This ethos of familial cooperation and entrepreneurial spirit laid the foundation for Tanya’s future endeavors in business.

Bio Xaynat Cosmetica Natural products, again made by women in Michoacán. $50-$250.

Following the dissolution of her marriage, Tanya embarked on a journey to establish her own venture, Bio Xaynat Cosmetica Natural. However, in the impoverished city of Pátzcuaro, where disposable income was scarce, she faced formidable obstacles in generating revenue to support herself and her children. Recognizing the limitations of her surroundings, she made a pivotal decision to relocate to Mazatlan, lured by its vibrant population, sun-drenched landscapes, and idyllic beaches that promised a fresh start—a sentiment echoed by Tanya herself: “I yearned for a new beginning, a life of independence with my children.”

Upon her arrival in Mazatlan, Tanya wasted no time in immersing herself in commerce, initially peddling homemade goods in Centro’s bustling markets. With a keen understanding of business and a deep-seated desire to empower women and their families, she birthed another enterprise: The Natural Shop, offering artisanal goods sourced from her hometown.Tanya recognized the importance of securing a prime location to showcase her products, which bore the indelible mark of resilience and strength—testaments to the skilled hands of fellow women artisans.

$850.

Amidst the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tanya found herself confronting unprecedented challenges in her business. With tourists nowhere to be seen, she embarked on a determined quest to sell her products, setting up shop at three different locations in the Golden Zone. Yet, like countless others in Mexico, she felt the full weight of the pandemic’s impact. However, from the depths of adversity emerged Tanya’s unwavering resilience. In 2021, as a semblance of normalcy began to return, she seized the opportunity to establish The Art Shop Boutique on Carnaval, adjacent to Intercam Bank in Centro. This bold move marked a turning point in her life, providing a beacon of hope amid the storm of uncertainty. With the establishment of her shop, Tanya found a refuge, a place where she could find solace and rebuild amidst the chaos. In 2022, her optimism and determination bore fruit as she expanded her venture, unveiling The Art Shop Gallery opposite the Angela Peralta Theater. Balancing the demands of single motherhood with the responsibilities of managing her burgeoning business, Tanya navigates each day with unparalleled determination and a contagious zest for life. “It’s a lot,” she acknowledges, “but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” In Tanya’s radiant smile and the twinkle in her eyes, one can discern a woman driven by purpose—a living testament to the triumph of resilience and the pursuit of happiness against all odds. Her journey serves as a beacon of inspiration, illuminating the path for others to follow their dreams with courage and fortitude.

Handmade copper jewellery by Antler Irma Reyes Rodriquez. $350-$400.

The ambiance of The Art Shop Gallery beckons visitors to linger and engage in leisurely conversation. Both establishments boast a kaleidoscope of vibrant merchandise, each item infused with character and charm. “Our most sought-after pieces include copper jewelry crafted by my dear friend Irma, alongside gold-plated creations by my sister, Yunnuen Hoppe,” Tanya reveals. Amidst the eclectic array of goods, one discovers kitchenware adorned with enchanting patterns, ready to grace any dining table. The shelves are adorned with artistic coffee cups, elegant attire, and exquisite handbags—truly a treasure trove of delights. For the adventurous palate, there’s the opportunity to sample Mescal or fruit liquor meticulously crafted by Soledad Monrroy. And for those seeking indulgence, Tanya’s own skincare line offers luxurious lavender-infused creams to adorn your hands. She employees a team of women in Michoacán to make her products – Tanya never forgets to support and empower these women.

Adding a personal touch, Tanya’s daughter, Andrea, infuses the shop with bursts of color through her periodic painting sessions on home decor items. This spirit of collaboration extends beyond family, with women from her hometown contributing their talents, crafting skincare products from home while balancing familial responsibilities.

Hand-painted bracelets by women in Michoacán – $250-$350.

At The Art Shop Boutique, visitors are greeted by the warm smiles of Rosa Maria in the mornings and Sol Marchet in the afternoons. While both boutiques offer a selection of shared items, each also boasts its own unique treasures—a compelling reason to explore both. Simply step inside and immerse yourself in the sensory delights of Tanya’s shops; I assure you, the experience will be unforgettable. If an item catches your eye from Tanya’s carefully curated collection you’ll know your pesos are flowing to women who are living in turbulent times in Michoacán. Your pesos are empowering these artisans, perhaps even providing food and shelter for them. Shopping and giving back, Tanya “wouldn’t have it any other way.”

[Art Shop Gallery, Carnaval 1209, in front of the Angela Peralta Theater, it’s open Monday 9am-5 pm; Tuesday – Sunday 9 am-10 pm.Wheelchair accessible. Art Shop Boutique,Carnaval #1315B beside Intercam Bank, it’s open Monday 9 am-5 pm;Tuesday-Friday 10 am-9 pm; Saturday and Sunday -9 am-5 pm. Major credit cards accepted.]

 

 

Inside Garcia’s Gift Shop.

By Kathy Bacon, February 2024.

How often do you stroll past quaint gift shops, seeking that ideal token to take home or to commemorate a special occasion? What allure beckons you inside? Is it the enticing display in the storefront? Perhaps the welcoming ambiance wafting through an open door? Or could it be the charisma of the shopkeeper?

For me, it was a quest for a thank-you card, a gesture of gratitude for our real estate agent who diligently assisted us in securing our rental here in Mazatlán. Amidst a row of shops, the first one seized my attention with its vibrant façade and the radiant smile of the shop owner. Intrigued, I ventured in. Expecting a Spanish-speaking proprietor, I was pleasantly surprised. Sofia Garcia conversed effortlessly in English. In that moment, my task seemed effortlessly simpler. There was an undeniable charm to the place, a vibe that piqued my curiosity. Though devoid of greeting cards, our conversation flowed effortlessly, and a connection was forged. Sofia’s shop, resplendent with an array of captivating gifts, drew me in. I hesitantly broached the idea of an interview, and to my delight, she agreed. Little did I anticipate the depth and candor of the exchange that followed, unraveling the heartfelt narrative behind Garcia’s Gift Shop.

$200-$500

Garcia’s Gift Shop emerged in 1994, as a labor of love, a testament to the enduring legacy of a hardworking family. It all began with Sofia’s mother, also named Sofia, who embarked on her entrepreneurial journey by buying and selling jewelry, gold, clothing, and even floral arrangements. Daughter Sofia fondly recalls shadowing her mother, absorbing invaluable business acumen and witnessing firsthand her tireless dedication. Together, they navigated the intricacies of customer relations, even accommodating payment plans for cherished patrons.

$200 – $500

Through meticulous savings and unwavering determination, her mother Sofia acquired two adjacent shops: the first, a Pewter Shop, and then, Garcia’s Gift Shop. Despite the onset of Alzheimer’s, her indomitable spirit persevered, buoyed by the unwavering support of her devoted husband, Pedro, and their close-knit family. In the wake of her passing, Sofia resolved to honor her mother’s legacy by sustaining the cherished establishment they had built together. Bolstered by the enduring respect and solidarity of her mother’s friends, Garcia’s Gift Shop endured as a beacon of warmth and community.

In the wake of her mother’s transition, Sofia experienced a poignant moment of solace as a hummingbird graced the threshold of the shop, an ethereal sign of reassurance and continuity. This shared recollection evoked a poignant exchange, a testament to the profound cultural significance of such encounters in Mexican tradition.

Fridas – tiles, ceramics, paintings, $120-$6000

Stepping into Garcia’s Gift Shop is akin to embarking on a vibrant odyssey through Mexican artistry and culture. Adorned with an array of Frida Kahlo-inspired pieces, each corner exudes a kaleidoscope of hues and motifs. Sofia’s affinity for Frida’s narrative, coupled with her striking resemblance to the iconic artist, adds a personal touch to the collection. Alongside Frida’s visage, motifs such as hummingbirds, hearts, crosses, and sunbursts adorn the walls, each imbued with symbolic resonance.

Sofia Garcia.

As Sofia shared cherished memories captured in photographs of her and her mother, both bearing the name Sofia, the essence of familial devotion and entrepreneurial spirit radiated palpably. It was a privilege to witness her recount this tale with such earnestness and affection. In closing, Sofia imparted a timeless reminder: behind every storefront lies a tapestry of untold stories, each imbued with the essence of resilience and the pursuit of dreams.

So many lovely ceramics – $120-$400.

[Garcia’s Gift Shop is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 am.-5pm. and on Sundays from 10 am. to 2 pm. The front entrance of the of the store is wheelchair accessible. Sofia Garcia is the owner and she speaks both Spanish and English and is very friendly and helpful. Located at Av. Playa Gaviotas 408-1 A, Golden Zone.  For inquiries call 669-101-0823. Pesos, US dollars and credit cards are accepted.]

Inside Designers Bazaar.

By Kathy Bacon, early February 2024

As one gazes upon the architectural structure of Designers Bazaar, it’s difficult to fathom the rich tapestry of stories concealed within its walls. These narratives unfold from humble origins, woven with the threads of familial love and the trials and triumphs of a business that has flourished amidst the diverse landscapes of Mexico. Seated across from me is Roberta Vercellino, the heart and soul behind this cherished establishment, serving as its owner, designer, and curator.

Roberta Vercellino as a young designer.

Roberta embarked on a journey from the United States to Mexico at the tender age of 23, settling in the charming town of San Blas. Enchanted by its quaint allure, she resolved to linger for a while. There were whispers of a certain individual named Luis who owned a restaurant. Upon meeting Luis, she recognized in him a gentle spirit and a diligent worker. Their encounter blossomed into a profound love, culminating in marriage.

Home Decor – $300-$7000 -on the second floor.

Roberta, driven by her passion for fashion and community, made the bold decision to establish a boutique in the heart of San Blas. With a knack for design, she personally crafted much of the clothing during a time when hand embroidery flourished. Embracing the local tradition, she enlisted the help of families and children who eagerly contributed their skills to her creations, fostering a sense of camaraderie she cherished. As demand grew, Roberta transitioned to a larger-scale operation, establishing a manufacturing plant to bring her visions to life. For 25 years, Roberta and Luis managed their manufacturing plant in Tepic, driven by a commitment to quality and affordability. Despite Roberta’s efforts, sales in the shop remained modest in San Blas, where the clientele consisted mainly of college students and surfers. Encouraged by visitors to relocate the shop to the burgeoning city of Mazatlan, where tourism was on the rise, Roberta and Luis made the pragmatic decision to sell their beloved restaurant and close her little shop and make the move.

Jewelry – $200 – $1000 – on the first floor.

Roberta and Luis embarked on their entrepreneurial journey by opening their inaugural shop in the heart of Centro Historico on Constitucion. During this early phase, the eclectic assortment of clothing, arts and crafts, and home decor predominantly hailed from Guadalajara. However, managing their manufacturing operations in Topeka posed increasing challenges, leading to its eventual closure. Despite their promising start in Centro, the dynamic landscape of tourism and urban development soon prompted a shift towards the burgeoning Golden Zone.

Kitchenware – $100-$500 -on the first floor towards the back.

Roberta and Luis made a pivotal decision in 1968 to invest in property along Playa Gaviotas, where they constructed a unique work-home space. Over the years, they raised three children, each of whom has embraced the family’s entrepreneurial spirit by either contributing to Designers Bazaar or pursuing their own ventures. Roberta speaks fondly of her husband Luis, crediting his unwavering dedication and tireless efforts in helping establish and nurture Designers Bazaar. “He’s an absolute powerhouse,” she emphasizes, reflecting on his ongoing support, including his regular presence at the shop, where he gladly takes on afternoon shifts.

Clothing – $500 – $1200 – on the first floor.

Designers Bazaar exudes a vibrant atmosphere on its first two floors, adorned with an array of clothing, arts, crafts, home decor, and kitchenware sourced from various regions of Mexico. With a commitment to fair pricing and quality, bargaining is unnecessary here, as each item is thoughtfully curated from family-owned businesses. Notably, Roberta’s personal connection with a supplier in Guadalajara brings exquisite Indian jewelry into the mix, complementing the fashion offerings seamlessly. As I explore the shop, I marvel at Roberta’s keen eye for blending fashion and decor, while her daughter Rachelle oversees the vibrant kitchenware section, adding a burst of color to the space.

You are invited to meander and take your time but don’t miss the enticing sale rack, offering fantastic deals that are too good to resist.

Roberta Vercellino owner and her daughter Rachelle Vercellino, kitchenware buyer.

[ Designers Bazaar is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. The first floor is handicap accessible. Rachelle, Roberta’s daughter, welcomes guests during the day and is fluent in both English and Spanish. In the evenings, Roberta herself is present, ready to engage visitors in conversation, particularly in English. Located at Playa Gaviotas # 217 in the Golden Zone.For inquiries dial 983-6039. Pesos or US dollar, credit cards are not accepted.]

Inside Salty Feet Art Gallery and General Store.

By guest writer, Sheila Madsen, January 2024.

Centro welcomes another boutique store, Salty Feet. The name is a nod to the Mazatleco expression for true Mazatlecos, pata salada – salty feet. Meaning you’ve walked the beaches of Mazatlan for many years and you are local. Noah Lentz, along with his mother Deb Rodriquez [owners of Tippy Toes Salon] have a beautifully curated store with unique items for sale.

The collage photo above is just a glimpse of what is for sale, and you won’t find these items in any other store which is why I spent $1000  – and left still wanting to buy more. There are adorable jars decorated with a tiny gold bee bobble filled with organic honey from Chihuahua, $40 [you get to taste it too], coffee from Coatepec [you get to taste that too], gorgeous  bowls and latte mugs from Guadalajara, fridge magnets, cards designed by Noah, art created by Noah, funny aprons, stunning jewelery from Afghanistan, colourful- silly- fun socks galore [perfect for teens, women and men, $180] and a fabulous line of the softest cotton t shirts you’ll ever find, all designed and made in Mazatlan. Of course, there’s lots more in the store, this is just a snapshot. SM.

[Salty Feet is located on Sixto Osuna #15, beside Tippy Toes, closed Sundays, and is open from 10 am, to 6 pm., credit cards accepted. Noah is bilingual.]