Originally published in Taos News
Santos Y Mas is a unique store, not only because of the handmade santos sold there but also due to the “mas” part.
You can find more than wooden saints in this Arroyo Seco shop. From the ceramic Christmas ornaments, available year-round, to the furniture, clothes and other consignment pieces displayed in the back room, Santos Y Mas offers un poquito de todo, a little bit of everything.
Supporting local artists
The store carries the work of thirty-seven local artists, among them owners Patricia Reza, Patrick Reza and Ray Romero.
Patrick Reza carves saints in wood and his wife Patricia decorates them. She also uses a technique called reverse painting on glass, which gives considerable depth to the images and magnifies the effects of light on them.
“It seems as if you were looking through a window,” she said. “They add color and texture to any room.”
Patricia Reza will be “Artist of the Month” at Taos Cow (across the street from Santos Y Mas) during February and the beginning of March.
Her brother Ray Romero created the Santos Y Mas store sign and has several paintings for sale in the store.
“Most of our products sell well because they are reasonably priced,” said Reza. “One of my main goals is to keep prices as low as possible. Now, our number one bestsellers are the Christmas ornaments made by my aunt BeckieLee Couture. Last July we sold one hundred fifty, in the middle of summer!”
The store also carries retablos by Lynn Garlick, who has been making them since the early seventies.
The retablos are dedicated to popular saints like San Judas Tadeo, patron of desperate and hopeless cases, Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of cats and cat lovers, and Santa Rita de Casia, invoked against infertility, loneliness, tumors, and unhappy marriages.
“We also have pocket santos,” said Reza. “They are a smaller version of the retablos, around three-inch long, and can be carried in your purse or wallet.”
There are many wood carvings (bultos) that also represent saints, the Holy Family, the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
“My Catholic faith is very important to me,” said Reza. “That’s why I named this store Santos Y Mas and feature santos prominently.”
Postcards by Rose Reza, BeckieLee Couture, Lynda Jasper Vogel and Ray Romero, among other artists, are available too. There are also different kinds of crosses: hand-carved, multicolored, Celtic, and traditional ones.
“Our newest products are Jan Nelson’s recycled lamps,” said Reza. “Whimsical and useful, they are a good example of practical art.”
Santos Y Mas opened in 2010.
Patricia Reza was working for the people who owned Firenza Gallery, located where Santos Y Mas is now, and when they closed the store she decided to take the space and make it her own.
“I had always wanted to have my own business,” she said. “I was already familiar with many of the artists who had their pieces here in consignment and basically knew how to run the store, so it seemed like the thing to do.”
The jewel of Taos County
As every business owner knows, location is a key element of success. The small, but colorful and touristy village of Arroyo Seco, right on the way to the ski valley, is prime real estate in that sense.
But for Reza, the decision to open Santos Y Mas here went beyond the pure commercial purpose.
“I really enjoy this area,” she said. “Arroyo Seco is the jewel of Taos Country. It’s also a great spot to meet people… and the best place to eat.”
Her favorite restaurants are Abe’s Cantina and Taos Cow.
“I love to get a beef enchilada plate with red chile at Abe’s and a turkey club sandwich at Taos Cow,” she said.
Work and dedication
Reza says she is living her dream of being a shop owner, but points out that it takes a lot of work and dedication to stay in business.
“You have to be at the store when you say you are going to be there,” she said. “If possible, thirty minutes early…don’t keep people waiting or they may not come back.”
Having a big, prominent sign also helps.
“You don’t want prospective clients wandering around, trying to figure out where your shop is,” she said.
Santos Y Mas is open seven days a week. Reza attributes its success to the fact that it is a dependable shop.
“When you come in, you know you will find good products and smiling faces,” she said. “That makes all the difference in the world.”
A dog-friendly store
The three owners take turns working at Santos Y Mas.
When Ray Romero is there, he brings Cinnamon, a small and lively rescue dog. Reza goes to work with Meggy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
“Both are very good with people,” Reza said. “Meggy may bark a bit at first but she is super friendly. She loves everybody.”
Dan and Joe Wardlow come in with their two dogs: Arlo, a Labradoodle and Alice, a Goldendoodle.
“We are looking for bandanas,” says Dan Wardlow. “For them.”
Reza offers a treat to Alice, who grabs it in the air.
“Our slogan is ‘we cater to all,’” Reza said. “Dogs included.”
Mention this article next time you visit Santos Y Mas to get a ten percent discount.
Santos Y mas is located at 484 New Mexico 150, Arroyo Seco.
Phone: (575) 776-2088.