Shopping in La Antigua, Guatemala
When I think of Paris, New York, Madrid, London, Geneva, Aix en Provence, and even Hong Kong, I think “good shopping” but for years, I never thought the words “shopping” and “Guatemala” ever went together because of the difficultly in finding high quality products. I would go to markets and stores but always end up disappointed, especially with the textiles which is what Guatemala is known for. But through the years, I came to realize that Guatemala has some truly amazing products although these goods are not readily visible; you have to know where to look. In the spirit of sharing good information consider the following sources for shopping in La Antigua, Guatemala:
Established in 1885, Cereria Evelia del Pinal is the oldest candle shop in Antigua and one you won’t find in the tourist guides or written about. Intensely secretive because of copycat producers, the candle recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and are now in the hands of Claudia who manages the shop in a very warm and inviting manner. Her guest books go back generations and she asks everyone to sign it before leaving. When I was in the store a few weeks ago, I found my signature from May 22, 1987 which greatly amused my daughter.
Claudia’s great grandparents (her great-grandmother was Evelia del Pinal) started the business with a commitment to make beautiful candles in all shapes, sizes and colors and they have never veered from their mission. The color of each candle goes all the way through the candle and is not just an external layer of color like most commercially sold candles. Upon entering the store, baskets filled with newspaper strips (to cushion the candles) are provided to each customer along with a pair of scissors to cut the candle off the hanging racks.Once the choices are made, each candle is individually wrapped in paper and then bamboo strips to minimize the risk the candle will be broken. Claudia also sells pillar, flower, bird, and animal shaped candles.
502 7 832 06 16
Open Monday – Saturday from 9:00 am -1:00 pm (but 11:00 am is the best time to go as Claudia is often late and doesn’t open the store in the afternoon). We often call the Antigua Gym (which is next door) at 7 832 75 54 and ask if the candle shop is open before adventuring over.
Textura is the place to go for the best selection of pillows, rugs, covers, bedspreads,placemats, napkins, fabric, and even hammocks. Guatemalan fabrics are typically bright and the quality varies greatly at local stores but not at Textura where the threads, designs, and weaving are all made under the direction of the owners of Textura. Open since 1984, Textura displays their products and fabrics by color in a series of rooms.
Open 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Mitch Denburg makes some of the most beautiful rugs in the world – the kind you see in Architectural Digest (January, 2005) and Better Homes and Gardens (July, 2010). But, you won’t see his work displayed in any store in Guatemala (at least not that I’ve seen). Mitch, an American has been making rugs since 1980 in a factory, just outside Antigua, Guatemala where he controls every aspect of production to ensure the highest standards of design and quality. There usually isn’t much I want to buy in Guatemala but one of the few items that I would love to have is a carpet or rug made by Mitch Denburg whose designs are so exquisite, so beautiful as to take your breath away (as beautiful as the pictures are, pictures don’t do his work justice).
Several years ago, Mitch gave us a tour of his factory outside Antigua and we watched these pieces of art being made by hand and machine and when I commented that I had never seen anything so beautiful, he told me that his rugs were in the White House along with a long list of celebrity homes. Rugs are made to order and in order to buy one, Mitch has to be contacted at his showroom office in Delray Beach, Florida: