By Erin Crowell
Cris and Kathy Telgard have made a living out of travel shopping. Its a job most people dream of and it has proven to be quite successful. The Telgards own Tampico, an eclectic boutique of jewelry, folk art and furniture, located on Main Street in downtown Leland.
The Telgards never intended to make a business out of their regular travels to Mexico. But soon after the couple started bringing back treasures, friends were sending them on their way with shopping lists.
On one trip to Oaxaca, it was a revelation, says Cris. We had all our goodies spread out at our hotel room and we thought, Wow, we could really make a living out of this.
So, the couple purchased a small building in Fishtown to sell their purchases.
We started out in a building the size of most peoples bedrooms, Kathy laughs.
At first, the Telgards sold only Mexican goods such as weavings, pottery and jewelry. After eight years, they decided it was time to expand.
There were many people waiting to buy the building that we are in now, Kathy says. The people selling it gave us 24 hours to decide.
It only took us a half hour to say yes, Cris says.
Some 24 years, a new store location and an added warehouse later, the Telgards have put Tampico on the tourist destination map, expanding their retail with goods from all over the world.
Our primary source is Navajo, Cris says. We use a silversmith in New Mexico.
The Telgards also use New Mexico as a home base during the winter months.
We spend a month filling up a semi truck with all our purchases and then drive it back to Michigan, he says.
Regular trips to these small towns have allowed the Telgards to develop a relationship with the local artisans and their families.
Were buying from artists who were just ankle biters when we met them and their parents, Kathy says.
Its hard to pin the specialty good that is sold at Tampico the store is known to sell all sorts of items, including jewelry from Michigan and around the world, colorful folk art from Oaxaca and the Navajo, rustic furniture, rugs, copper and hand-painted sink basins, metal-framed mirrors, hats andmost recentlya larger selection of authentic, vintage cowboy boots.
We have over 300 cowboy bootscleaned, waxed and refurbishedfrom New Mexico, says Cris.
The Telgards scoured estate sales and flea markets, finding a variety of boots some dating back to the 1950s.
The first year we brought back around 100 boots and sold all of those. Last year we had 180 and sold all of those, too, says Cris.
The Telgards say this years stock is already going fast. Its proven to be one of their hottest items.
Of course, theres always something fun and unique to find at Tampico.
If you want to be a successful business you have to keep the entertainment high, says Cris. And thats what weve done. People are always asking us, what did you come back with this time?
Tampico is located at 112 N. Main Street in downtown Leland. Current hours are weekdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; weekends, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. July 4-Labor Day, store hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Call them at 231-256-7747.