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Little shops of history

Strong and Trambley Store, Mora, New Mexico, 1977. (Robert A. Christensen/Palace Of The Governors Photo Archives Hp.2013.16.20)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alicia M. Romero spent time posting vintage photos on the New Mexico History Museum’s social media accounts over the course of the pandemic.

As she posted, one thing became clear.

“It sparks memories,” Romero says. “It’s fun to see everyone chiming in.”

As a curator at the museum, Romero got the idea of reaching out to the community for the museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Little Shops, Mom & Pops.”

Romero says small businesses have always been significant to the New Mexico economy – with Their importance even higher than ever.

She says the exhibit will highlight the long history of small business ownership throughout New Mexico and explore how they have changed with the times.

Tito Griego in his store, Tito’s Market, on Acequia Madre and Garcia Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico, circa 1980. (Palace Of The Governors Photo Archives Hp.2014.14.556)

“Trying to crowd source the information is interesting,” Romero says. “I was preceding with caution to make sure I could handle all of the responses. The stories that are coming in are interesting. I’m taking the time to research them as they come in.”

Romero says the exhibit will focus on the role of small businesses in New Mexico around the mid-19th century.

“We’re focusing on the commerce,” she says. “The Santa Fe Trail and the railroad really changed all of that. It brought these small business owners to the area.”

Of course, there will also be a piece to the exhibit on how today’s pandemic has affected the small businesses.

“What I’m hoping for is to gather nominations and recommendations to put together an oral history on the project,” she says. “If you grew up in New Mexico, there are one or two spots that you can always rely on. These places hold special memories, whether its getting your hair cut at a certain barber shop over the years. When we tell the stories, it’s a shared experience.”

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