Tony Reyna celebrated the day before his 96th birthday (Jan. 31) the same way he spent so many days since 1950 — standing behind the counter of his shop at Taos Pueblo.
But these days, Reyna is doing it is a part-time employee of Tony Reyna Indian Shop. Reyna recently passed control of the store to his son, Philip Reyna.
Reyna said he was pleased to see the store stay in his family. “(Philip) does well,” Reyna said. “He’s good with people.” He also said there was a chance the store would eventually end up in the control of his granddaughters.
Reyna, a survivor of the Bataan Death March in World War II, spent two years building the adobe building that still houses the Tony Reyna Indian Shop. He used a small generator to keep the lights on, and he was a regular stop for Indians from many tribes looking to sell their wares or trade. It was also a popular spot for tourists headed to the Pueblo.
“I opened the doors to the shop May 1, 1950,” Reyna says, wearing a custom-made bolo tie. “There was no shop like this at the Pueblo at the time. I felt I had a responsibility to promote Indian craft.”
The store still features crafts from Taos, Santa Clara, San Juan and other pueblos. Reyna has drums, pottery, painting, jewelry and many other items on display.
The store’s cozy, inviting feeling come from Reyna’s pleasant disposition combined with the smell of burning piñón and the space heater blazing by the doorway.
After more than 60 years in business, Reyna jokes his shop is “pretty well established.”
“It’s an interesting occupation, you get to meet lots of very interesting people,” Reyna says. “I’ve been very lucky.”
Editor's Note: A spelling error in the headline of this online article was corrected.