BY MICHAEL SCANLON
For the Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – A business on the Mesilla Plaza offering two disparate product lines has split in two as the sisters-in-law owners seek to tamp down customer confusion and improve marketing and internet sales.
Heather Salopek, owner of Legacy Pecans, and Tenniel Salopek, owner of Buffalo Swag, a Southwest clothing and jewelry boutique, will continue to operate the separate businesses in the same building at 2355 Calle de Guadalupe, just south of the Double Eagle restaurant.
“We were Legacy Pecans and Company – my sister-in-law Heather and I both had that,” Tenniel Salopek said. “With Buffalo Swag, I’ve been trying to build an online business also. But when you follow Legacy Pecan, it’s clothing. It was confusing for our customers.
“So we decided to branch off,” she said. “Heather is continuing with Legacy Pecans, her company, and I am going to continue doing Buffalo Swag, but we’re still here together. So it’s like a mall here.”
The Salopek women are part of the prominent Mesilla Valley pecan-producing family, so Legacy Pecans integrates retail sales into the family businesses.
“We sell locally grown pecans and gourmet pecan gifts and New Mexico food products,” Heather Salopek said. “We have seven different flavors of pecans, and we have probably 30 different products of pecans – like pecan butters.”
Legacy Pecans has been in business about five years, and Buffalo Swag has been operating on its own since January.
One thing the two businesses have in common is that both sell New Mexico native products, Tenniel Salopek said.
“Whether it’s Legacy Pecans or Buffalo Swag, we both try to support New Mexico products,” she said, pointing out Buffalo Swag products on display. “We try to support New Mexico designers. We have a jewelry designer, and we’re low on her stuff right now because it has sold so fast. She does a lot of the New Mexico inlaid wood stuff. And we’re got some other designers we’re working with to create more unique jewelry. These shirts with the Zia symbol – a lot of these products are made just for our boutique.”
“We love to support New Mexico, and we have a lot of pride in our state,” Tenniel Salopek said. “That’s been the fun thing about trying to get unique stuff in here is finding these people along the way. It’s a lot of trial and error, and a lot of search and going to markets. That one thing neat about being a boutique is we can be unique compared to your department store.
“We also offer online now – we call it brick-and-click – that’s one of the things we changed with Buffalo Swag,” she said.
Customer traffic in the shops was brisk on a recent Friday afternoon as tourists and shoppers browsed under the freshly budding trees in the plaza.
“Heather and I moved our store – it started off down there behind Nambe, and when this place opened up, we moved down here to get on the square,” Tenniel said. “It was a huge, huge difference. We learned a lot about the traffic in Mesilla. If you’re not on the square – even though we were one store off the square – Heather and I really did struggle with not being on the square.”
Tenniel’s daughter, Tristan, 11, serves as a photographer for the website, and some of her own artistic creations are for sale in Buffalo Swag.
“My other daughter is in college, but she helps out here, too,” Tenniel Salopek said. “It’s definitely a family business through and through. My mother-in-law is here a lot helping me. It takes a whole family effort. It’s also part of what makes us kind of unique.”
Michael Scanlon is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.