and L.A. decorators constantly carry off fab pieces from Baja
to resell for up to 10 times the original price. The selection
south of the border is astonishing, and many one-of-a-kind
items are worth hiring a U-Haul.
single-bed headboard featuring two cherubs can be snagged
in Rosarito for about $160. A similar piece, seen recently
in San Diego's Old Town, carried a price tag of $1,600. Equipal
(pigskin) furniture is a low-cost, high-quality Mexican specialty
that seems to last forever, indoors or out. The variety is
especially impressive in Rosarito and choices include chairs,
tables, sofas, love seats and full bars. A breakfast set,
with four barrel chairs and a 40-inch table, can be bargained
to under $400. Hand-carved, hand-painted, all-wood armoires
are a steal at around $600.
and home-furnishing items, from entertainment centers to massiv
mirror frames to carousel horses, can be custom-ordered in
your choice of finishes and colors. Can't find what you want?
Or can't afford it north of the border? Bring a photo or magazine
ad, and local craftsmen will copy it exactly. Most places
don't ship. Those that do are noted below.
city to shop
Head for Rosarito first for furniture and home furnishings.
Much of the wrought-iron dining sets and hand-carved, hand-painted
wood cabinets, chests and chairs are made locally and therefore
are lower in cost. Some of the same items can be found in
Tijuana, but the selection is significantly smaller, prices
are a bit higher and your bargaining power is less. Skip Ensenada
for furniture except for the funky, fun pieces and antiques
at Art and Stuff.
shop in Tijuana
Bazar de Mexico: If you can only make one shopping stop in
all of Baja, make it here. This 18,000-square-foot home furnishings
and upscale artisan's expo brings together, under one roof,
the work of many of the makers of handcrafted furniture and
home-accessory dealers whose shops are scattered along the
coastline. Couches, love seats, room dividers, headboards
and accent pieces are all beautifully displayed and cover
a wide range of styles and crafting techniques. Prices in
every category throughout Bazar de Mexico are extremely fair.
the more than 40 open-fronted shops in this complex, you'll
also find some of the area's finest silver and pewter, stained
glass, Talavera pottery and more exotic native crafts. Huichol
Indians from Nayarit, the most ancient tribe in Mexico, work
in traditional costume, crafting the famous beadwork jaguar
masks ($80 here vs. $300 stateside) and other art pieces that
are sold worldwide. The stained-glass craftsmen of Arte en
Vidrio ship some 3,000 Tiffany-style lamps per month to Chicago
alone. A 2,900-piece lamp that goes for $1,500 in the states
sells for $400 here, while a 24-inch stained-glass window
panel sells for about $50. And any stained-glass lamp, window
treatment or jewelry box can be custom-designed. Located on
the corner of Avenida Revolucion and Seventh Street. Call
011-52-66-384737. Three hours of free parking are provided
behind the jai alai palace.
a shipping operation in the rear of Bazar de Mexico, will
insure and send your purchases anywhere in the world, with
a customs broker on staff to do all the paperwork. In fact,
you can brings items to be shipped to ProPack from anywhere
on Avenida Revolucion, or from anywhere in Baja.
shop in Rosarito
Apisa is an 18,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor showcase of
truly unique furniture pieces and personal treasures, gathered
from Guanajuato, Michoacan and Guadalajara. "Wow!"
is the operative word as one winds through a maze of artsy
displays of one-of-a-kind briefcases ($150 to $250 for ponyskin-and-leather
combinations) and unusual equipal ottomans shaped like long,
undulating snakes. High-backed, high-style willow-and-pigskin
or willow-and-pony chairs hang from the ceiling, fanned for
display like playing cards at $350 each.
real knockout items at Apisa are the oxidized-iron furniture
pieces and sculptures. Life-sized matadors and bulls (around
$1,500 for a set), rearing horses and fountains all look as
though they've been crafted of aged and hammered copper. This
same unique patina graces the all-metal armoires, entertainment
centers ($500) and even dining-room tables ($750).
significantly higher prices here than at other Baja shops,
but these are still far below stateside prices - if you could
even find the items. Apisa also ships. Located on the east
side of Rosarito's main street, midtown, just north of the
traffic light at the Quinta del Mar complex. Call 011-52-661-20125.
Pancho's, one of the border area's oldest and most reliable
curio shops, has expanded in size and is dumping much of the
little stuff in favor of high-style hacienda pieces, upscale
home furnishings, antique frames, wrought-iron and interesting
glass and ceramic pieces.
still carries more pottery than you can sort through, but
now the entire back of this enormous establishment is more
exciting than most North County decorator shops. And Pancho's
prices have always been among the fairest around. For example,
36-inch, hand-carved frames run a mere $20 to $40 here, depending
on the amount of intricacy. Try finding that price stateside.
Located on the east side of Rosarito's main street, near the
north end of town. Call 011-52- 661-20091.
de la Carreta is a family-run, roadside furniture factory,
long known for high-quality, handcrafted furniture and accessories.
It recently doubled in size and is still expanding. From hand-carved
angels to hand-painted chests, toy boxes and headboards, the
two-story, barn-like structure will keep you busy treasure
hunting for hours. Custom-made and handcrafted work here sells
for far less than discount-catalog prices. Pricing for each
piece is based on the amount and intricacy of the carving,
painting and inside detail work done on specialized pieces.
Armoires and entertainment centers run from $460 to $600;
hand-carved, four-drawer chests start at $160; custom headboards
run $180 to $400; 3- and 4-foot carousel horses run $160 to
$300. La Casa de la Carreta ships. Located at kilometer 29.5
on the Old Road, just south of Rosarito. Call 011-52-661-20502.
in Mexico will vary with fluctuations in the peso. All prices
on bargainable items quoted above are after bargaining. The
law of supply and demand does apply in the border area. As
tourists' tastes change, inventory will vary at shops that
cross-sell or feature items from different categories. Specialty
or one-of-a-kind items mentioned above may not always be available.