Our First Gift Shops

here must be over 20 gift shops on the island with local merchandise as well as goodies from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and the U.S.A. There are expensive gift shops and even chains of gift shops, but very few of them know who were the pioneers in gift shops in San Pedro and Twenty Five Years Ago proposes to give them credit for a job well done in paving the way and perhaps teaching them some gift shop techniques.

The first two gift shops almost started simultaneously in San Pedro, Sea Turtle Gift Shop and D&Gs. While doing some community service along the beach, Genaro Nuniez (my deceased brother), found some old bottles buried in the sand. We cleaned them up and had them on the steps of his house while we were constructing lobster traps. A few tourists passed by to see us at work on the lobster traps and inquired about the bottles. They bought one for 2 dollars U.S. and Genaro thought he had struck a deal. He went digging for more bottles, brought out some glass buoys, cleaned up some conch shells and there was one of San Pedro's first gift shops.

Right across our home was the house of Dimas Guerrero. He had been painting on paper, painting with oil at some bars and later on spray painted T-shirts for every boy and girl in town. But this was not a gift shop yet, and he was only doing it for locals. Dimas was artistic and soon developed a stencil to paint t-shirts, painted on conch shells and made his first sale to some tourists. He was not yet married and said that he wanted to open a place in a small room, which his brother Ovidio had lent him. I suggested the name D&Gs meaning Dimas and Gloria's Gift Shop, and he loved the idea, after all he was in love with Gloria. And there too was born one of San Pedro's first gift shops.

Both Diman and Genaro were artistic in carving and soon developed a very profitable enterprise carving pendants, earrings, bracelets, and ornaments out of black coral. They used to personally dive for black coral, and tourists knew it was legitimate and a romantic idea to wear something made by local hands. If you look at these two shops today, you will appreciate why they have a large stock of locally handcrafted products- the success of their businesses.

Shortly thereafter, with the arrival of more tourists and with a seemingly profitable business, others came into the picture. "Paisano" had arrived to the island and rushed to Guatemala for a bundle of Guatemalan goodies, which he combined with conch shells and some local goods to open the San Pedro Gift Shop. His business grew in leaps at the time. Then Paradise Hotel was growing and they too opened up a small gift shop.

The word of this business must have spread around as pretty soon there were people coming from other places to open up gift shops. And they too were successful. Eventually there were gift shops that saw such a profitable business that they started chains of gift shops.

Today our gift shops offer a very wide range of merchandise, and if there is one secret of success, it is that tourists like locally made, hand crafted goods that are typical of the island. A Mexican hammock or a Guatemalan shawl will sell from time to time, but the local merchandise is the best seller. All of this we learned it from Sea Turtle Gift Shop and D&G's Gift Shop- our pioneers in the gift shop business. We salute them in the name of the people of San Pedro and we invite visitors to take back home a sample of some real San Pedro products.

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