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Tonala - A Shopper's Nirvana!

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Post by CheenaGringo on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:27 pm

Trying to explain the magnitude of Tonala to someone who has never been there is an almost impossible task and most of us who have been there barely scratch the surface. In the 13 or 14 years that we have been shopping Tonala, we have seen many changes. The two most striking changes have been the cleanup of the city and improvements made in parking options.

This most recent trip allowed us the luxury of walking around at a casual pace without having to worry about beating the traffic trying to get back out to the Lake. We spent a good part of Thursday Market Day and then returned on Friday for some more relaxed looking around. We believe that the economic downturn has forced a consolidation of shops to a smaller primary district. Numerous shops which were formerly scattered around on side streets have now moved to the much improved Tonaltecas (main drag) and the mini malls that run perpendicular to it. From there, there also seems to have been a consolidation or compaction of shops to the area bounded between Tonaltecas(on the west), 16th de Septiembre(to the south), Francisco I Madero(to the east) and Juarez(to the north). There are still plenty of shops along Ave. Tonala.

Another observation from this trip: in the past, we would often see new products in Tlaquepaque that had been made in Tonala but rarely found there. We always figured that they were protecting their good customers in Tlaquepaque. This trip, we saw numerous new products that were being shown both in Tlaquepaque and Tonala but the Tonala prices were about half those in Tlaquepaque. For example, Kathy saw a particularly beautiful glass vase with unique ribbons of brown and gold running through the glass in Tlaquepaque. In Tonala, she not only saw the same vase for exactly half the price but also more items of the same design & coloration. We also saw the same happen with some newer furniture designs.

[img]Tonala - A Shopper's Nirvana! 2012-010[/img]

The somewhat lengthy slideshow that follows is a compilation of Tonala photos taken through the years with the most recent ones first. I have attempted to catch the colors, the variety, the dynamics and various other aspects to a Tonala shopping experience. Please do not jump to the conclusion that I liked everything captured in the photos!

Tonala Slideshow: https://picasaweb.google.com/118146709599975173363/TONALAJALISCOMEXICO#slideshow/5699415112292766050

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Post by Mainecoons on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:53 pm

Tonala is one of the bennies of living here. Took my brother from CA there, he absolutely loved every minute. Our favorite is that huge metal art place on Ave. Tonala just south of Lazaro Cardenas (extended) and next to the place that does all the custom aluminum work.

A little sad to see how much graffiti there is in Tonala these days. Someone needs to execute these tagger scum.

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Post by CheenaGringo on Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:17 pm

MC:

If you had visited and seen Tonala going back to 1998, the graffiti issue would have been the least of your concerns! The changes and improvements in the last 13 years are a real statement on their commitment to clean up the City. One needs to understand that Tonala has been dramatically affected by the economy both in Mexico and NOB. Back in the "glory days" before 9/11, Tonala could ship product as fast as they could produce it NOB. Those days are gone and I have read Mexican economic reports which stated that somewhere between 25% and 40% of the Tonala artisans(depending on area of expertise) have been forced to find a new trade because of the downturn in business. This trend is sad for the Arts & Crafts of Mexico traditions because history has taught us that often times once they leave, the traditional chain of passing down within the family is permanently broken. This has happened and is well documented in other countries around the world and we are personally sad to see this trend in Mexico as it is such an important part of their culture.

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Post by hockables on Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:15 pm

terrific photos neil...

as i only just discovered....

the problem with tonala... like the internet, there is so much to see, it's easy to get lost...

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Post by peteben on Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:09 pm

Amazing slideshow.

I might just show it to some friends instead of attempting to describe Tonala.

Thanks,

Pete


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Post by Mainecoons on Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:29 am

Exactly why we support the Feria as volunteers and hosts for artists, Neil, and have a lot of Mexican folk art in our home. I think it is even better that folks like you come down and buy from the artists and sell the stuff in the U.S.

The graffiti is a very troubling sign of rampant gang activity in that area. Four years ago, there was very little of it.

That is one of the bright spots in Albuquerque. Martin Chavez's anti-graffiti campaign was brilliant and has become a world model for an effective response. Among other things, Chavez documented the direct connection between graffiti, gangs and crime.

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Post by CheenaGringo on Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:43 pm

One other thought on shopping Tonalá: the product mix in Tonalá often changes like some people change their underwear! If one sees something that they particularly like, we would recommend either buying it on the spot or returning shortly thereafter because it may not be around for long. For example, a friend purchased the pottery ladies (photo of which follows) and when we were there in August, we planned to purchase one for our home. Went back to the exact shop where he purchased his and even though we had this photo, they didn't even remember ever having carried it:
[img]Tonala - A Shopper's Nirvana! Dsc_3610[/img]

Some of the products that we have certainly observed going through various design cycles: furniture, glass, pottery and pewter.

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