Casa Bonampak is shutting down its retail store on Valencia Street by mid-January 2019, after months of unsuccessfully searching for an apt candidate to carry on with the business. The cultural enterprise will move on to an online and wholesale afterlife, where it will continue supporting the fair trade of Latin American artisan work.
“I did not find the right energy in the community to continue the work,” said Mexican-born owner Nancy Chárraga, who had hoped to sell both the store and the website, “perhaps to a non-profit,” and stay on as a consultant.
She added the right suitor would have had to be “inclusive and, of course, understand the Mission and its Latino community, and also bridge beyond that to the greater, diverse community” in the neighborhood.
Casa Bonampak started as a street fair stand in 1996. The business evolved into a storefront at 24th and Mission, and later moved to its current space at 1051 Valencia Street. Chárraga’s business involved importing fair-trade artisan work for clients in the U.S., as well as working with the artisans on the design and approach of their products.
“People often think about the glamorous side of a retail store, but it requires hustle and a sense of business,” she said. “You need to love creating community, and to keep a store open, you need to steer the ship all the time.”
Twenty-three years in, the business was taking a toll on Chárraga, who wants to dedicate more time to her aging mother and aunts, and continue running the business from home.
“It was a heartbreaking decision, but my body wants to slow down,” she added.
Although the closure has already been announced and the landlord is already showing the place, Chárraga said the business is still available, if someone were to swoop in on time — Chárraga says her business is still viable and had “survived gentrification, so far.” Failing that, the plan is to liquidate the store mid-January and move out.
“It is not the outcome that I wanted, but I am very thankful,” she said. “I feel like the richest girl, full of wisdom, and of so many intangibles that you can’t put a number on.”