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Hola, thanks for taking the time to learn more about Copal Store.
I guess that when you have a family business for so long you cannot tell the difference between the family and the business history, they are mixed up. So by telling you about our business I must tell you about my family:
My name is Dyana Agur and I am the youngest daughter of Rafy Agur from Mexico and Aya Levin from Israel. I have two brothers, Dror, the oldest and Amos.
Even though the store was opened in 1991, this all began in 1987, the year we first visited Baja Sur. My parents and I came to La Paz by ferry from Mazatlan in our VW Combi.
We were headed to Vizcaino were my father had a job interview at a dairy farm.
The job was not what my father expected and honestly the Vizcaino dessert did not thrill any of us. In our way back we visited towns, missions and other sites there are down the road and finally arrived to the Baja's tip.
We wanted to part from Cabo San Lucas Port on the ferry to Puerto Vallarta but it was Christmas season and all tickets were sold out.
We had to stay for 3 weeks more. We did not mind, we loved it! I loved the ocean, my mother loved the weather, it was snowing back home, and my father... he smelled an opportunity. San Jose del Cabo was unknown to most of the world, but it was a charming place and it was developing fast.
Life is complicated and it took us two years to move to paradise and another three years to open Copal store.
A Mexican Folk Art store is a staple business in a tourist destination, travelers seek to take with them a piece of the place they visited, a lifelong memory of the special moments they have spent abroad.
In the 1990's American and Canadian tourists that visited San Jose del Cabo bought more than souvenirs, they also bought gifts and decorative pieces for their houses.
There are two kinds of folk art stores:
The curious shops were souvenirs and low quality crafts lay outside the store, and customers have to bargain to get a good deal and end up paying the regular price.
The second kind is the stiff gallery, featuring quality crafts, usually signed, displayed nicely and overpriced.
Copal Store was structured in a different way. Original, representative, high end crafts fairly priced, nicely displayed in a comfortable ambience. No hassle and no pressure.
Our first location was at Hidalgo 10, it was small and off the main road but in that time there were not many business premises, most of the buildings in downtown were still houses.
I was at school, Dror was just married and Amos was looking to settle. They both married young and had children soon.
My father would travel every three months to the mainland, especially southern Mexico, in our VW Combi with one of my brothers.
They spent a month or more searching for new handicrafts and picking up previously ordered items. The isolation in the villages made shipping imposible.
The only way to get handicrafts was to pick them up where they were made.
It was safe to travel around mainland highways and while they were traveling my mom and my other brother would stay in the store.
In 1993, a well-known furniture store located in a beautiful old house with a patio went out of business and we moved in.
Zaragoza 20 was our new address. Across the street from the Church the location could not be better. The building however had its problems, it was exposed to the wind, so dusting was a day long activity and in the summer there was no chance to have AC. If you ever been to Baja, you know there is no way to get along without AC.
Over the years conditions changed and most of the artists we represent were able to ship their pieces. The nature of the trips changed, we would rather travel by plane to selected places and ship what we had bought.
By the end of 1995 an old house by Mijares square was being offered for rent as a business premise.
The building needed much repairing but the roof was the original, and the adobe walls were still there.
It had a patio, not as pretty as the one in Zaragoza 20 but we could work on it.
And we did. In January 1996 we opened the store at Mijares 10 our last physical location.
Success came along. Many people in town said that Copal was the first real store in the area; carpeted floors, air-
conditioned, classical music and beautiful folk art.
The store located in the Plaza Mijares was surrounded by the best restaurants in town and it became a must to see while in Los Cabos.
San Jose was a small town, there was no high school and I was not the kind of girl to live by myself in the city so I homeschooled myself and began working full- time at the store.
I had always helped on the store on small chores and on vacations, but never more than a couple of hours a day. From then on I became more involved in the business and took part in every aspect of its management.
For many years the concept set up by parents proved to be successful. We had faithful old customers that had followed us from our others locations and new ones that had fallen in love with the new store. Every season more people came to Los Cabos and word of mouth gave us a respectable name in the area.
After September 11, 2001 we had a terrible time; the ensuing high season was awful, people were afraid of flying and the many restrictions applied to airplane travelers began affecting our business. I remember everyone in town would stop using their cars because there was no money to buy fuel and many people left because there was no work.
Next season things peaked up, but it was never the same, not for tourism anyway.
Real state powered our local economy for the years to come, more and more people were buying luxurious houses and condominiums. The industry around construction and Real State created thousands of jobs.
From 2003 to 2008 Los Cabos doubled its population, Americans, Canadians and Mexicans moved in to service the booming industry and they needed houses too, so there was more construction and developing.
Everyone was happy, despite the terrible traffic; things were good, we were even getting European tourism in the summer, so there was no low season any more.
The summer of 2008 when I became a mother, was the best summer we ever had in the store, we were planning to open a cafe in the store's backyard.
And then, again in September, life as we knew it changed forever.
By the beginning of 2009 real state was dead, so was construction. It is believed that around 100, 000 people left Los Cabos in the following months, the jobs they came for,
no longer existed.
In April 2009 swine flu was detected in Mexico and European governments banned people to travel to our country. Many months went by until we had foreign visitors again.
The outcomes of the swine flu in Mexican tourism industry were devastating.
And it was only the beginning.
The effects of the world's economy crisis were striking everywhere and the terrible violence that has affected some areas of Mexico was creating terrible publicity.
As a result most of our lifelong customers stopped to come to Los Cabos.
The ones that kept visiting could not afford to buy as much as they used to. Sales dwindled and we watched and waited.
By the end of 2011 it was clear things were not picking up. We had to make a decision and lowering our standards to keep the store open was not an option.
In 2010, we launched our Store's website with me as an editor. Within a year we were able to build a site that reconnected us with our lost customers and connected us with new ones. And it became clear to us that there was no need to lower our standards to keep our store open!
We could move our store to the World Wide Web and keep up with our business style.
And that's how Copal Store Online was born.
To our friends and customers that honored us with their preference and testimonials over the years:
Thank you some much for your best wishes, kind advice and continued preference in this new endeavour.