Southwest Emporium is a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind items

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At the Southwest Emporium in Belen, you never know what you might find, and that’s what makes it great.

The emporium, which features about 23 vendors selling everything from antiques to art to firewood, Kristin’s Barber Shop and La Trinidad Christian Store is like an Easter egg hunt for grown ups.

Ungelbah Daniel-Davila-News-Bulletin-photo: Southwest Emporium in Belen offers a little bit of everything. Pictured, from left, are barber Kristin Romero, owner Adela Baldonado, Corrine Crespin, store manager, and owner Roberto Gabaldon.

Located along N.M. 314, the Southwest Emporium is eye catching to anyone happening by, with a collection of rusty antiques decorating its old Western storefront and a teepee off to the side.

The interior doesn’t disappoint either, continuing with the wild West theme, a long meandering hall made of cool adobe leads to a large room filled with treasures ranging from shabby-chic county furniture from yesteryear to framed posters of Johnny Cash and James Dean to a whole galaxy of one-of-a-kind finds from the very antique to the not so long ago.

To the left of the entrance is Kristin’s Barber Shop in a sunny adobe room where barber Kristin Romero cuts gentlemen’s hair — conjuring up visions of Western movies and dusty cowboys riding into town for a haircut and a shave after a long spell out on the range rustling cattle.

Opposite the barber shop is La Trinidad Christian Store, where Adela and Mike Baldonado, co-owners of the property, sell religious items, such as rosaries, urns, books and special jewelry.

Of the year-old store, co-owner Roberto Gabaldon says having the opportunity to open the property for business, along with the help and support of his partner Corrine Crespin and aunt and uncle Adela and Mike, has been “a blessing.”

“It seems to be working,” Gabaldon said. “The vendors enjoy it and it’s drawn a crowd of locals coming through.”

He says he plans on opening the field up next door to get even more vendors to come in for a flea market.

“Robert has been wanting to do this — this is right up his alley. He collects (antiques) himself so his junk becomes someone else’s junk,” said Crespin light heartedly. “He likes to bargain. He says, ‘You make me an offer.’ We’ll work with the numbers, we want you to take it home.”

She says it has been nice watching the business blossom.

“It’s just a unique place,” says Adela. “It’s in a prime location between Belen and Los Lunas. It’s a family-oriented business.”

She said they had seen a lot of outdoor flea markets and they thought an indoor one would be more efficient and convenient sincee it can operate all year long.

“We try to enforce our Christian values and morals into our business,” she says.

Together, Mike and Gabaldon renovated the entire building to make it the quaint store it is today.

“It has a lot of unique things that you don’t see,” says Crespin, who is the store managers. “You don’t see these types of things at Walmart.”

Gabaldon said he enjoys antiques because they remind him of a simpler time when life was less complicated.

With the days getting hot, the emporium also offers a wide selection of snow cone flavors with an easy, drive-up window.

Romero said getting to cut hair at the emporium has been special because she gets to know families and talk to “all walks of life.”

“The people, customers, the kids and the older men I really love,” she says.

Kristin’s Barber Shop is open Tuesday through Saturday and is open to walk-ins.

For information, call Romero at 615-3897. To contact the Southwest Emporium, call 859-4328 or 304-6929.


-- Email the author at udavila@news-bulletin.com.