Juarez shop specializes in antique, unique and artisan

The owner of  a unique boutique in Juarez, called Julia & Ernestina, is hoping that the store’s mix of U.S. collectibles, Mexican antiques and artisan crafts can keep shoppers south of the border. “Everyone runs to El Paso to buy things, leaving Ciudad Juarez at a disadvantage,” said store owner Monica Renee Morales Gallo. She believes that in order for Ciudad Juarez to rebound economically money has to be circulating in the city and not outside. Julia & Ernestina is filled with products made by artisans, designers and companies from different parts of the Mexican republic. It also carries collectibles and one-of-a-kind items.

“Julia & Ernestina is a new concept here in Ciudad Juarez,” Morales said.

Patricia Martinez (right) reopened her business, Pacífico bakery, after two years of having it closed due to threats. (Alejandra Barrera/Borderzine.com)

Once the most dangerous city in the world, Juárez struggles to prosper again

CIUDAD JUÁREZ – Patricia Martinez welcomed two men into her “Pacífico” bakery in downtown Juárez one late afternoon in December 2010. She greeted them with a smile as she did with all her customers without imagining that the encounter would change her life forever. Martinez thought they were just customers shopping for some pan dulce or homemade food. While Patty – as her friends and family call her – stood behind the counter, one of the men approached her holding a gun in his hand and, told her in a hushed voice that they were demanding “la cuota,” an extortion payoff. The man said that if she wanted her family to be safe and her businesses to remain open she had to pay 2,000 pesos, or around $155, every week.