The closure of activist bookstore Modern Times was difficult for its workers and customers — especially so soon after the election of Donald Trump. But there’s some good news: the empty space it left behind will be given new life on Saturday with the opening of Colibri at 2919 24th St.
Colibri is the realization of a long-held dream of Connie and Ricardo Rivera, who have sold Mexican and Latin American art, clothing, jewelry and other goods at Mixcoatl on 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue for 13 years. The couple opened a second store in Oakland a few years after the 24th Street store debuted, but closed it after just a year because there was too little foot traffic and business.
This time around, they’re located on a lively street, and Rivera says they have a clearer picture of what they want and how to achieve it — in a visible and busy space.
“There’s a lot of history there. I feel honored to be there and also to have this great opportunity,” Rivera said.
She also acknowledged the challenge.
“We know this is not going to be easy. It is going to be a big challenge, but it is something we wanted to do.”
Mixcoatl will continue to offer jewelry and other products from all over Mexico, but Rivera says Colibri will focus more on folk art and clothing for all ages, and for both men and women. It will also serve as a creative outlet for her husband, who works in several media, including clothing and jewelry.
“He’s an artist, so we want to have the opportunity for him to be able to create more,” she said, then added with a grin, “He’s going to be his own boss.”
Rivery says she’s working hard to represent and promote culture and the artists whose work is sold at both stores, especially at a time when shops like hers compete with larger commercial manufacturers.
It also means knowing the customers — from the man who breezed in asking for a luchador mask, to the senior woman who came in looking for a chat on a Tuesday afternoon. Rivera greeted both of them enthusiastically.
“I believe our store is different from the others because it’s not just about the money, it’s about sharing the culture,” she said.
Colibri will open Saturday, Sept. 2 with an event from 1 to 5 p.m. at 2919 24th Street.