A Santa Muerte sculpture inside the Botanica. People have left it gifts of chocolate. From 2010. Drop in and say hello to Luis Vasquez. He did not want to have his photo shown.

Luis Vasquez has run his store of ritual and religious objects, Botánica Las 3 Niñas Blancas E Hilario, on 24th St. with his wife for the past 11 years. 

The rows of colorful candles promise to clear one’s path of obstacles — to find love, a job or to get home safely. 

“Every candle has a purpose, a meaning,” Vasquez said in a mix of Spanish and English. “Some are for good health, some are to help find a job, some are for protection.” 

And during the pandemic, there has been a great need for all three. 

While the storefront also offers tarot card readings, Vasquez declined to talk too much about that side of the business, saying only, “sometimes people are born with the gift, and we opened this business to help people in need.” 

“We don’t just sell things, we help people feel better,” Vasquez said. “There’s a lot of stress right now, and when you talk things out with people, you find some relief to your problems.” 

When asked about the most popular candle, Vasquez plucks from the wall a candle with seven layers of color and bilingual text reading “Abre Caminos,” or “Road Opener.” 

“This is for when you’re starting something new. A new process, new love, work, anything that is new,” Vasquez explains. “For it to work, you have to take it home, light it and think deeply about what you want, and this will clear your path of obstacles.”

Apparently, the name road opener is also literal, and helps drivers return home safely, Vasquez said. 

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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

Tips can be sent to juancarlos.lara@missionlocal.com
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  1. I love this store! Luis has helped me with a lot of different issues. I always enjoy talking to him–he is very generous with his wisdom and advice.