After 23 years in the Mission District, Casa Bonampak is for sale. We asked owner Nancy Charraga about the sale and her years working at the store that began on 24th Street and ended up on Valencia Street.
NC: Yes, the website is included. I am often surprised that many people do not know that in addition to the retail and internet store, we wholesale to other stores throughout the U.S. and to international locations. I also work with special-event planners, some of the best in the industry, customizing decorations and developing traditional products — all handmade by artisans in Mexico under fair-trade principles, of course. I am often juggling more than a few special orders, making sure everything is delivered timely. In addition, I have expanded the cultural classes taught here and am offering decorating services off-site. You may often find me up on a ladder, happily getting a space ready for a fiesta.
NC: The artisans who are like family, and their cultural products. The wide range of customers — immigrants, locals, tourists and designers. Cracking confetti eggs on kids who visit. When dogs drag their owners into the store. The student classes that visit and exposing them to the beauty of Latin culture. How this business has shaped, transformed me, the amazing opportunities and incredible people I have met along the way. Spontaneous samba or salsa to anyone walking in and willing to learn. Bringing my cat — our mascot — to work. He likes to commute by bike 🙂
My staff who, has worked with me for more than 10 years and are like family. OK, now I’m going to cry.
ML: Low points?
NC: This is really a small company, and the workload is a lot for one person. Anyone with a small business knows that you are working much of the time — it is not a traditional 9-5 schedule, and it can be physically demanding. This business is a good fit for a family or an organization that can share the load.
ML: You had a good run with the Trump piñata. What is selling now?
NC: Our specialty decorations and paper flowers are our strongest product, also the Trump toilet paper and our line of political caps — spin-offs of the Make America Great Again caps. Though sales of the Trump piñatas fluctuate, depending on WTF is happening on a national level, they are still wildly popular. In these challenging times, customers find the political lean and humor not only refreshing, but necessary.
ML: What plans do you have?
I have always felt that I truly belong working with youth in the community; anyone that has seen me around kids knows this is true. I was actually told by the same shaman that my real contribution to the Mission is yet to come. Also, I am secretly hoping to still be involved with Casa Bonampak in some way, since I am an expert on surviving gentrification — so the Mission has not seen the last of me.
ML: What if the business fails to sell? Will you close the store and move on?
NC: I can’t even go there. It would mean another legacy business closing in the Mission, no Trump piñatas on Valencia Street, the loss of economy for artisans and their families.