Arroyo Seco Mercantile scores. The building was first used as a general store until the 1930s, back in the day when acceptable currency included hay, wool and produce as barter for its goods. The store was later used as a weaving shop and restaurant, among other things. In 1998, Clinton restored it to its original purpose as a general store. It won first place for Best Place to Buy a New Mexico Souvenir and second place for Best Groovy Gift Shop, both in the 2019 online customer survey. Best of Taos “I bring in things from estates all around – like that stone sink from Bali and lots of vintage carvings from Bali I got when I visited there,” Clinton said. Seco Mecantile owner Jeanie Clinton was beaming when we caught up with her shortly after the awards were announced. Household items and kitchenware will steal the show and make you vow to come back for more, as will the selection of old postcards adorned with imagery from the eras of Fred Harvey and J.R. Willis. “It’s so wonderful to get this recognition,” she said, extending her arm toward her coworker Patricia Reza acknowledging her efforts, which helped garner the accolades. “A lot of this old stuff I get at estates, people can use again,” Clinton said. “It’s like recycling. People will buy something and sometimes they remember that their mother or grandmother used the same thing.” Clinton was raised in Farmington, New Mexico, and fell in love with Taos. She always thought she’d like to live here, so when it came time to move it wasn’t much of a stretch to open a general store cum antique and artisanal shop in a place she already loved. Local craftspeople and artisans’ works can also be found at the Merc. There are candles, vintage Western gear and gifts, candy, toys, linens, soaps and a great selection of Old West books and histories by Taoseño authors Mabel Dodge Luhan and Frank Waters, among others. Stepping over the threshold from the into the main room of the 121-year-old building feels like you’re walking through a time warp into the distant past. It’s filled with lots of here-and-now and sooner-or-later. Which is exactly what the Mercantile is all about. portál And true to the general store’s purpose, you’ll even find more common items such as pencils, pens, paper, paper clips, notebooks, tape and staples; and they also offer copy and fax services. It’s no wonder the store is so popular. “We’re always trying to have three kinds of products – new stuff, old stuff and stuff you need.” Clinton stocks the shop with a disarmingly wide array of antiques, old pawn jewelry, souvenirs, nuts and bolts, screws, rakes, postcards, pottery, 1900’s kitchenware and religious mementos, including Dia de los Muertos tchotchkes. Don’t miss the garden Clinton has grown out of the flattened, dusty earth of the old parking lot next door, complete with a vintage log shelter from Peñasco she saved and transported to Seco. Every year, Clinton says Seco hollyhocks grow in states and countries all across the globe, carried there by visitors eager to take a little bit of the Land of Enchantment home with them. Locals and visitors both descend upon the “Merc” for family celebration items and holiday decór for Halloween, and of course during the popular Arroyo Seco Fourth of July weekend parade. Originally built in 1898, stacked from corner to corner in the old adobe are oldie-but-goodie furniture pieces and heavy metal items that you are sure were first made 200 years ago, like the humongous branding irons, iron fry pans and especially the Griswold waffle irons used to cook breakfast over an open fire. Don’t miss the upstairs antique and vintage “stuff” – tables and cupboards, chairs, two-man saws, pitch forks and a pair of hand forged-in-Oklahoma thick metal andirons daintily decorated with metal rose vines. Arroyo Seco Mercantile “People come in here and spend a lot of time looking around,” Clinton said, moving from vintage trade-blanket-patterned Pendleton jackets, vests and bags to brand new Pendleton baby blankets, bandanas, dog beds and doggie coats. There are brilliantly colored and embroidered leather collars and leashes from Chiapas, Mexico, too. 488 STATE ROAD 150, ARROYO SECO OPEN MONDAY-SATURDAY A.M.-5:30 P.M.; SUNDAYS A.M.-5 P.M. • (575) 776-8806 SECOMERC.COM TAOSNEWS. COM/BEST-OF-TAOS 41
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