The Very First Gift Shops

extredit must be given to these first two gift shops, which opened doors almost simultaneously in San Pedro to open the doors to this now thriving business. Today there must be close to some 25 gift shops and souvenir places combined with boutique, children's gifts, and other accessories. The pioneers in gift shop business are The Sea Turtle Gift Shop and D & G's Gift Shop.

Genaro NuŅez, Sr. (deceased) was a fisherman for many years. When not diving for lobster, he spent some time collecting old bottles, glass buoys, and other collectibles that served as a second income. Pretty soon, he was attracting a few tourists by word of mouth to his home where he sold these items. Later he shaped turtle shells into a variety of products like bracelets, combs, and earrings. Still later it was discovered that black coral could be shaped, carved and polished and that it carried a pretty good price. It was considered precious because it was found only beyond 100 feet of depth under the sea. All of this was in the early 1970's. When Genaro decided that this could be a profitable business, he moved over to the Barrier Reef Building (now defunct and site of The Alliance Bank), and John Bremekamp helped Genaro with a name and to make the business grow.

Dimas Guerrero Jr. was also a fisherman for many years. In his youthful years, Dimas spent a lot of time doing artistic work like making tattoos for a lot of Sanpedranos or painting sceneries at bars and local establishments. This of course was not considered gift shop business. But gradually Dimas started painting T-shirts using enamel sprays and this attracted visitors to buy especially if it carried the name of San Pedro on the design. From sprays to stenciling T-shirts and there you had another souvenir. An artist by instinct, Dimas also carved conch shells, turtle shells, black coral and anything that could be converted into a souvenir. When Dimas returned from a fishing trip, he also brought back some black coral, which he had dived for in the deep waters. At the time Dimas was dating Gloria, his wife today, so his friends suggested the name D & G's for the gift shop.

Selling of souvenirs was slow in the early 70's, so it could not be a full-time business. However, both of these businesses have grown into reputable and profitable establishments. Sea Turtle Gift Shop still carries a very wide range of souvenirs and even offers servicing to cellular phones. D & G's has expanded into finer products including gold jewelry made locally. All gift shops on the island today should have an appreciation and respect for the two pioneers in gift shops who did all the struggling and learning by trial and error. Twenty Five Years Ago congratulates these two firms for their vision and trust in the tourism industry and for "hanging in there".

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