Shopping for Bargains in the Southwest

The comparisons are inevitable between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Those of us who are fortunate to live in this beautiful and historic state hear them all the time. And while it is true that Santa Fe is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the locals all know the truth – everything in Santa Fe is more expensive. Santa Fe is the beautiful but high maintenance sister to Albuquerque’s working class older brother and that means, in comparison, bargain shopping resides in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque’s down to earth attitude and working class status have made it de rigueur for fashion and bargain hunters across the globe and now the secret is out.

Here are just a few areas to investigate on your next visit.

JOBBERS AND FACTORY DIRECT BOUTIQUES

What, you may be saying, is a jobber? Jobbers are the businesses that make the jewelry, accessories and clothing that are sold in the state of New Mexico and around the nation. Have a jewelry line you would like designed? Then the jobbers are the folks to see. The people who work for the jobbers are artisans, many of them are native from the local pueblos and Albuquerque is home to the best in the Southwest. Purchasing at the point of origin is always cheaper and so it holds that prices at the jobbers and the factory direct outlets are the lowest around.

Looking for authentic Indian jewelry, blankets, rugs, kachinas? Try these jobbers and factory direct businesses:

– Skip Maisel’s Wholesale Indian Jewelry and Crafts – 501 Central SW
Ã?­- Gus’s Trading Co. – 2026 Central SW
Ã?­- Silver Ray – 6908 Central Ave SE
– Ã?­ Sunwest Silver – 324 Lomas Blvd NW
Ã?­- Utility Shack, Inc. – 11035 Central NE

For the best mix of traditional and contemporary jewelry designs incorporating Southwest styling, blankets, pillow covers and other decorative items plus women’s fashions using southwestern tapestry fabrics then you will want to visit two of the best locations:
Ã?­- Gertrude Zachary’s Jewelry – 1501 Lomas Blvd. NW – jewelry, accessories
Ã?­- Silverado -1318 4th St. NW – home accessories, women’s fashions

GROWER”S MARKETS

From June to October Albuquerque farmers and artisans sell their wares at the Growers Markets. There are six located in the Albuquerque area plus more across the state. The following areas hold markets in Albuquerque:

– Cedar Crest Farmers Market
– Central Albuquerque Growers Market
– Corrales Growers Market
– Downtown Growers Market
�­- South Valley Growers Market
– Village of Los Ranchos Growers Market

Of these six markets the most active with vendors is the Downtown Growers Market at 8th and Central Ave NW in Robinson Park, which is open only on Saturday mornings. Arriving as early as 7:00am from June to the end of August and at 8:00am from the end of August until October, the park is filled with all kinds of vendors selling fresh produce, honey, herbs, plants, art, jewelry, chair massages and tarot readings. Mornings in Albuquerque are always cool and breezy no matter how hot it might get later in the day so spend a Saturday morning wandering the park, have a breakfast burrito and a cup of joe and get to know the locals while picking up some bargain priced original crafts or jars of local honey or jam.

OLD TOWN, NOB HILL AND DOWNTOWN

These shopping districts are part of the old Route 66 which in itself is a must see whether you find a bargain or not. A mile or two of city streets separates each shopping area but all should be reachable by bus or trolley. Cruising up and down the old route is really easy and not daunting so renting a car is an option as well.

Nob Hill offers a nice walking experience and plenty of local and contemporary shopping. You will find clothing boutiques, home furnishing stores, coffee shops and restaurants plus a wide variety of art galleries. It is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon and offers a bit of insight into the local community. The only chain stores you will find here are a token Starbucks and an Arby’s. If you are tired of seeing ristras, eating chile and shopping for silver and turquoise this is the place to head. You won’t find much of any of those things here. Instead you will get some great deals on Spanish influenced furniture, retro clothing and contemporary jewelry and art. If you are shopping for local contemporary artists this is a good area to begin your hunt.

Downtown Albuquerque is under a very successful revitalization. It boasts Skip Maisel’s Wholesale Indian Jewelry and Crafts store mentioned under Jobbers plus a variety of other gift stores, art galleries, eateries, and bookshops. Don’t forget to check Gold Street just a block south of Central for more shopping. The downtown area comes alive in the evenings with music and drink in an array of dance clubs, pubs, and stage venues including the historical Kimo Theater.

Old Town, Albuquerque’s historic town square, holds its own version of a daily Indian market just like Santa Fe does. Both markets are designed for Native Indian vendors only with no Caucasian or Hispanic artisans allowed to sell along the square sidewalks. You will find some of your best bargains here and not just from the Indian sellers but also within the shops that surround the square. This is the place to roam and wander with shops tucked away along the courtyards and alley-sized streets. The twists and turns will lead you to all manner of shopping delights. Look for Aceves Old Town, Basket and Rug Shop at 301 Romero on the West side of the square. It’s chock-full of all things New Mexican and a great place to buy in bulk if you are purchasing large numbers of souvenirs. Another great shopping spot is the La Hacienda Gift Shop at 302 San Felipe NW on the east side of the square. This gift shop is connected to the La Hacienda Restaurant and it is filled to the rafters with clothing, rugs, jewelry and gifts. You are sure to find that last minute purchase here.

We’ve just scratched the surface of shopping in Albuquerque. Other places to shop include museum and cultural center gift shops, local upscale resale stores and believe it or not the airport gift shops. Happy bargain hunting!

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