Austin Rocks: Shop the World at Tesoros Trading Company

Tesoros Trading Company Austin Vietnamese tin folk art balloons (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

(Part of the Austin Rocks series of posts by a local about things to do and see in Austin, Texas)

Any place with a jumble of contents described as “hallucinatory” is my kind of shopping experience, but really, the folk art offerings at Austin’s Tesoros Trading Company are neatly displayed and easy to peruse….quite unfortunate, since it makes you want to buy one of everything.

I’ve been going here for decades – every time I’d visit my parents while home on leave from Navy duties, I’d be in there poking around and trying to talk myself out of buying more things.

No, I’d tell myself, you already have a bunch of Day of the Dead ornaments and figurines.

No, not another doggone T-shirt (even if it is cool Mexican masked wrestlers) or more Peruvian retablos.

Where in heaven’s name am I going to hang a Vietnamese painted bamboo curtain? (but I want the mermaid one!)

Nope, don’t do it; where will you put another ceramic item from Izucar?

Tesoros started out with a focus on Latin American arts and crafts at reasonable prices, and now those clever diablos have expanded to carry arts and crafts from around the world, still at reasonable prices. There’s a bit of overload on the Frida Kahlo items, but hey, it’s a college town – that and Che Guevara stuff is almost obligatory.

More recently, they moved from the original Congress Avenue shop (close to the late, lamented Las Manitas Avenue Cafe – developers truly paved paradise and put a parking lot there and I’m mad every time I walk by) but their newer digs on South Congress fit in quite nicely with the happening SoCo shopping and arts scene.

Tesoros also generously donated calendars to support a travel-themed swag bag that Pam Mandel and I put together when we spoke about travel blogging at the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) tech conference. I still remember picking them up, and the salesgirl describing how they’d rolled and hand-tied each calendar for our bag.

It’s that kind of place….generous and wonderful.

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