A Touch of Mexico
By Drew Copeland

A Wanderer Who Found a Home

When Juan Manuel Soto moved from Mexico to Canada in 2003, he brought with him a little piece of his culture. His shop, A Touch of Mexico in Denman Place Mall is filled with colourful, authentic and mostly hand-made Mexican goods. Originally trained as a lawyer, Juan decided to move to Canada on a whim. “I was feeling crazy, so I moved to Canada,” says Juan of his decision to leave home. “Maybe I still am!” he adds with a laugh.

When he first arrived, Juan went to school for four months to learn English, as he didn’t speak a word at the time. His English has improved by leaps and bounds since then, and although he still speaks with a Mexican accent, his grasp of English is more than enough to help customers find the goods they're looking for. It also helps that he does so with a very friendly and approachable manner.

I have all types of customers—tourists, locals, old and young. They all seem to like my stuff. - Juan M. Soto, owner
A Touch of Mexico, Earrings, necklaces, pendants, leather and cloth bags, ponchos, scarfs, blankets

Hand-Made Mexican Products

At first, Juan ran his business out of a kiosk in the mall before expanding into the shop in 2012. Looking through the glass surrounding the shop today, the traditional Mexican colours – green, orange and red – fill the space. Sparkling silver jewellery accents the earthy tones of the clothes and bags. Accompanying the shiny jewellery is Juan's equally bright smile.

The majority of the goods on the shelves in A Touch of Mexico are hand-crafted in Mexico. Juan's niece visits him periodically, bringing stock mostly from Tasco, Cuernavaca, Mexico City and Jalisco. The leather bags and hats are authentic. Ponchos, shirts and hats come in a variety of styles, with enough variation in size so that anyone might find their ideal garment.

When he isn't occupied helping customers, Juan makes all of the earrings and some of the necklaces and pendants. He is proud of the silver and stone creations that he fabricates with Mexican silver and gemstones like opal, corals and agate. He has them artfully arranged on different types of stone, fabric and stands around the shop. The results are striking.

A Touch of Mexico, Earrings, necklaces, pendants, leather and cloth bags, ponchos, scarfs, blankets

A Friendly Atmosphere

Often his friends stop by to chat, hang out and have a laugh in the shop, so the atmosphere is amiable and social. “I have all types of customers — tourists, locals, old and young. They all seem to like my stuff,” says Juan. The shop is busiest in the summer when there are lots of tourists visiting Vancouver, and over Christmas time when people are looking for gifts for their friends and family. Juan wonders if one day he'll move to a new location. For now though, he says he's pleased with the homey spot he has found for A Touch of Mexico.

A Touch of Mexico, Earrings, necklaces, pendants, leather and cloth bags, ponchos, scarfs, blankets
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