Diving even deeper into the realm of brick-and-mortar retail may sound like a risky game plan in the midst of a pandemic that’s seen iconic American companies file for bankruptcy and independent businesses shutter permanently. Yet that’s precisely what Ginger and Mario Diaz have bravely done by opening Rancho Diaz — a sizable new Pearl outpost that aims to cater to locals and tourists alike with a smartly curated mix of kitchenware and artsy home decor.
Although built on the success of their bright and bubbly Olmos Park gift shop Feliz Modern and its playful Pearl offshoot Feliz Modern Pop, Rancho Diaz is perhaps a more accurate reflection of the couple’s interests: he’s a foodie, she’s into home decor and they both love art and travel.
Travel, as it turns out, is essentially the germinating seed for Rancho Diaz — and it arrived in the form of a brass donkey Ginger picked up from a vintage store while road-tripping through New Mexico, Colorado and West Texas.
“I spent way more on him than I would ever spend at home,” she confessed. “But I always like to buy one trinket from each place [I visit] that only I would know is from that spot. In all the little nooks around my house are things from each trip.”
On the drive back to San Antonio, the little donkey got Ginger daydreaming about opening another store — one that would carry high-end merchandise and artisanal wares that might not fly in the context of Feliz Modern. The Pearl space previously inhabited by Austin-based accessories designer Leighelena had become available and with that in mind, Ginger texted about 10 people to ask them what they felt was missing from the complex.
“The majority wrote back and said, ‘vintage, kitchen, home,’ and that’s what I was thinking too,” she said.
That exchange got the wheels in motion for Rancho Diaz and future trips to Mexico to source merchandise and meet with artisans.
“When we travel to Mexico, there are always these beautiful pieces that we don’t have room to bring back or are too fragile to bring back,” she said. “If we feel like that then a lot of other people do too. … Our goal is to carry things [at Rancho Diaz] that you can’t find online … things that are not really cost-effective for Amazon or other places to carry — really nice hand-hammered copper or huge trees of life direct from the artisans. You’re never going to find something like that online that’s easily shippable.”
Opened in mid-August, Rancho Diaz is already living up to that goal. In addition to the aforementioned ceramic trees of life — arboles de vida that get carefully packed in Mexico and driven to San Antonio by car — there’s an array of treasures that would be either risky to ship or difficult to find online. Among those are intricately carved Oaxacan candles, heavy skull planters chiseled from stone blocks by Mexico City designer Piedrafuego, vibrantly patterned Huichol skulls coated in beeswax and thread, Otomi textiles sewn by an artisanal women’s collective in Hidalgo and majolica pottery from Gorky González — a well-known Guanajuato artist who’s creating same-sex versions of his signature wedding plates especially for Rancho Diaz.
Beyond the artisanal, affordable options for home cooks and nesters abound, including colorful tableware and kitchen utensils, a wide assortment of charcuterie boards, salsa from local upstart Sierra Diablo, niche cookbooks, houseplants from New Braunfels-based Wild Roots Nursery and vintage finds provided by Tex Mex Dance Party, a pop-up concept from San Antonio-based Rose Reyes. As a complement to her vintage merchandise, Reyes brings her Tex Mex Dance Party to life with a monthly tardeada — complete with beer, dancing and vintage vinyl spinning — on Rancho Diaz’s front patio.
“The front patio is where we’re going to have all our activations,” Ginger said. “We’re going to have tequila tastings, cooking demonstrations and other surprises.”
303 Pearl Parkway #101, (210) 670-5509, ranchodiaz.com
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
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