Stepping from the bright Española sunlight into the cool adobe interior of the Chimayó Trading Post is like stepping into a bit of New Mexico history. The trading post — designated a national and state historic landmark in 1992 — opened its doors in 1917.
The store’s origins date to the late 1880s, when Gavino and Ursulita DeAgüero Trujillo opened a trading post and mercantile in Chimayó. In 1917 their son Esquipula DeAgüero (E.D.) Trujillo and his wife, Romanita Ortega Martínez, purchased the business and started a cottage industry for local weavers. They relocated to Española in 1921 to take advantage of the tourist traffic between Santa Fe and Taos, and the trading post became a regular stop for Fred Harvey Indian tours. In its heyday, it boasted the Ramona hotel and restaurant, a gas station and a photography studio. “So it was like Española’s first strip mall,” jokes fourth-generation owner Patrick Trujillo.
In the early 1980s, the trading post passed to E.D. and Romanita’s son Leopoldo Trujillo, who operated it until his death in 2017. Leopoldo’s nephew Patrick now operates it with the help of his sister Roberta Trujillo Diaz.
The store retains its characteristic trading post atmosphere. Trujillo educates visitors about the Navajo and Puebloan jewelry and pottery on display. The walls are filled with paintings by local artists and Navajo and Río Grande weavings. Antique furniture and chandeliers share the space with local crafts, such as handmade body care products. Curios and collectibles hover in odd corners.
An array of Santa Clara pottery is front and center. “Santa Clara’s kind of my favorite,” Trujillo says. “San Ildefonso’s beautiful too. Then I have storytellers from Jemez, I have micaceous from Picuris, I have pottery from Santo Domingo, Laguna, Acoma — from all over the place.”
Trujillo willingly demonstrates his family’s weaving tradition on a loom next to the door. Photos documenting the trading post’s history and portraits of E.D. and Romanita displayed on a marble-topped vanity speak to his pride in his heritage.
Trujillo initiates a new tradition this year. After months of remodeling, the attached family home will host artist-in-residence events. In the warm atmosphere of the adobe living room, local potters, weavers, painters and other craftspeople will sell their wares directly to customers. Trujillo hopes to launch this new service by midsummer.
Arin McKenna is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Santa Fe New Mexican since 2004, as well as this magazine since its inception. She was county reporter for The Los Alamos Monitor for nearly six years and hosted and produced Art Tour Santa Fe on KTRC Radio.