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The Pink Store welcomes visitors to Puerto Palomas, Mexico

Pink Store

Head west down Highway 9, past Santa Teresa. After an hour and a half, you'll come upon the tiny town of Columbus, New Mexico, made famous in 1916 when Pancho Villa and his revolutionaries battled the U.S. Army here. But right down the street, you can park your car and walk about 100 yards into Mexico. It's the tiny town of Puerto Palomas and on your left is the Pink Store.

The atmosphere is unmistakably festive on a recent Saturday at the Pink Store. The mariachis are serenading the customers who come from all over the country for taste of Mexico.

“We shop and we fill up our little baskets,” said Debbie Binder, who comes in from her home in southern Arizona. “My girlfriends and I come down here at least once a month. This is so much fun to make the two-hour drive. We chat on the way down and then we go to the Pink Store.”

“You just cross the border but you almost feel like you’re taking a mini vacation, that’s what people say,” said Ivonne Romero, who owns the Pink Store with her husband Sergio. They commute to the store from their home in El Paso almost every day.

“A friend from Deming who moved here from Chicago said to me yesterday, ‘You know, Ivonne, this is my happy place,’” she said.

For people who want to avoid the hassles of a major border crossing, Palomas is the perfect option. And that's why the Romeros work to make the Pink Store a special destination.

“We have maybe 70 percent repeat customers which is fantastic because we’re very grateful to them for keeping us here through thick and thin throughout the years,” Romero said.

Along with the food and festivities in the restaurant, the store features a huge selection of ceramics, jewelry and folk art from all over Mexico.

“We make it a point to look for unique pieces.”

Of course, the store sells the typical knickknacks and bric-a-brac. But also incredibly beautiful pieces, many from local artisans.

“We have had many prize-winning pieces throughout the years that these artisans produce,” Romero said.

While many are discovering the Pink Store for the first time, it's actually celebrating its 30th anniversary. Romero said it started as her grandmother's restaurant and store, then known as Tillies.

“We always understood what a privilege it was to serve and be hospitable,” she said.

Over the past three decades, the store has evolved and expanded and is now in the midst of a complete transformation. Throughout the summer, the Pink Store will undergo a major renovation that will include a new restaurant and galleries.

As for the party, it will continue in Palomas, which is welcome news to the visitors and to the store's long-time employees.

“Because it does take teamwork and we do have an extended family with the people who are here and the people enjoy that,” Romero said. “They are part of all of us.”.

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