Though Jackie’s Trading Post is mostly known as a store where people can find American Indian crafts, weavings, pottery and vintage Southwestern jewelry, it has recently started to add new pieces to its inventory.
After moving to a new location, a bigger building located at Paseo del Pueblo Norte, across the street from Michael’s Kitchen, owner and operator Bill Slay has opened the doors to a different kind of merchandise.
“I am now bringing in contemporary works of art and turning the space into a gallery,” said Slay. “I want to exhibit Taos-based painters whose work I admire.”
Narrie Toole is one of the artists currently featured at Jackie’s. She is a Women Artists of the West associate and Oil Painters of America associate who has been creating art professionally for over 25 years.
“Her oil paintings of ranch animals and wildlife honor the ranching way of life,” said Slay. “Some of her paintings are included in the collections of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, in Las Cruces and the Hubbard Museum of the American West, in Ruidoso.”
Another artist is Charlee Shroyer, well known for her oils and Southwest abstract paintings.
“She has had shows in Reno, Nev.; Naples and the Tampa Bay area in Florida; Dallas and Taos,” said Slay. “Her textile work has been juried into American Craft Council shows in Chicago and Columbus.”
There is also Tom Noble, recipient of the prestigious 2010 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. A third-generation Taoseño, his work has been exhibited in the Santa Fe Capitol Collection and many galleries throughout the country.
Landscape artist Robert Reynolds is also represented here. He has had exhibits around the world, New Delhi, Soul, Paris, Hanover, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Rome, and Tokyo among others.
The combination of local arts, Southwest vintage craft and jewelry and some old Southwest furniture makes his space unique, said Slay.
“You can find an old pew that belonged to a church in Mora or a WPA cabinet built in the 1930s, a collection of Zuni fetishes, and a huge selection of vintage Navajo rugs and baskets,” he said.
Slay takes pride is his selection of authentic collectibles and pottery.
“Pottery was initially made by ancient potters for their own use and to trade among Pueblos,” he said. “It has had an interesting evolution, first for everyday use and barter, then as curios and finally as works of art and ornaments, like the ones that I carry.”
Evolution of a business
The trading post was started by Slay’s mother, Mary Baca (Jackie is her nickname) over 35 years ago, and evolved from a small place in El Prado where she sold fruits and vegetables to a well-known shop.
“She traded with people from the Pueblo and acquired jewelry pieces and pottery,” said Slay. “Eventually, she decided to change her business to a trading post, where she sold mostly Native American pieces.”
When she decided to retire in 2006, Slay took over the store.
“Before, I was the director of Corporate Communication for a food service company to the airline industry in Dallas,” he said. “But collecting Southwest crafts always interested me and I also enjoy meeting and interacting with people.”
He learned from his mother the value of original old pawn and traditional Southwest jewelry that are still an important part of the business.
“There is a large selection of Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi jewelry,” he said. “Colorful turquoise, in particular, is a favorite because it never goes out of style. My mother and I have a long history of buying and selling crafts made here at Taos Pueblo.”
Slay moved the store from its old location in the Plaza last May.
“Having more square footage to work with provides improved viewing of the wide variety of collectable Native American handmade crafts and art that has made Jackie’s a ‘must-see’ in Taos for almost 40 years,” said Slay.
The best part of owning a business like this one, says Slay, is when someone discovers a special piece that they either like instantly or have been looking for forever.
“And that happens quite often,” he said. “Most of our pieces are one-of-a-kind.”
One of the challenges is “being here every day, and being in a good mood,” he says. “People like to be happily greeted and entertained to a certain degree.”
The business is doing well, and he credits its success to his mother.
“She lives in Fort Worth now and I bring her here from time to time,” he said. “Her friends and former customers are always happy to see her.”
His advice to new entrepreneurs is “find something that works and stay with it.”