BY KELLY HILDEBRANDT LMTBusiness writer he’ll have to hire help.

Furniture store offers a variety of handmade Mexican pieces
LMTBusiness writer
Walk inside the bright orange and yellow painted
building of El Encanto Mexicano and explore a variety of
rustic Mexican furniture pieces.
El Encanto Mexicano, which means “Mexico’s charm” in
Spanish, is on San Bernardo Avenue and sells a variety
of handmade Mexican furniture ranging from
entertainment centers to living room sets and bedroom
pieces, said Gavin Turner, owner.
In addition to solid wooden furniture, they also sell
ornamental iron pieces. Customers can also have either
wooden or ornamental iron pieces custom made, Turner
Turner opened the store two years ago when he moved
to Laredo with his wife – a native of the city.
He said he opened the business to offer Laredoans
more variety when choosing their furniture.
“I just didn’t see the quality and the variety,” he said.
Growing up in Mexico City, Turner got into the
import/export business while working for a company
called Herman Miller, which imports business furniture.
It’s during that time that he said he learned the ins and
outs of the business.
“I was kind of forced into it,” Turner explained. Working
on the retail side of the business, Turner said he was
asked to take a position in the operations department
that handled imports and exports.
“I really didn’t know anything about it but I learned the
hard way,” he said, explaining that he learned through
Moving to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1998, Turner said he
and his wife drove through Laredo and attempted to buy
new furniture.
“We were looking for furniture here and we didn’t find
any,” he said.
When they moved back to Laredo about a year later to
be close to his wife’s family, Turner said he decided to
open the store.
Since opening the store two years ago, Turner said
business is good and getting better.
Business doubled the first year El Encanto Mexicano
was open, Turner said, adding that from 2000 to 2001 it
doubled again. For now he runs the 2,500 square foot
LMTBusiness Journal
December 10, 2001
store by himself, although he said as business grows
he’ll have to hire help.
Although some retailers fretted a breakdown after the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Turner said his business has
actually increased over the past few months.
Although it’s been more of a hassle to cross items from
Mexico, he said that some of his competition recently
went out of business, bringing more customers to his
While Turner sells furniture to residents here in Laredo, he
said about 50 percent of his business is wholesale – selling
to companies up north and as far away as California.
Many American companies find that Mexican wholesale
companies will try to take advantage of them, Turner
said. So instead of trying to import items themselves,
they opt to buy from a wholesaler, such as Turner, on the
American side.
Turner said people enjoy the rustic furniture because it‘s
a style that fits into almost any living room.
“You really never get tired of it,” he said. “It’s not just
one style … it mixes and matches with just about
Popular items include entertainment centers and dining
sets, he said.
Although Turner said it’s difficult to select pieces to
display in his store that will sell, he said he tries to
display a little bit of everything to get an idea of what was
popular, especially since he admits, “My taste is not
everybody’s taste.”
But although some pieces might not sell as fast, sooner
or later every item finds a home because everyone has
varying tastes, he explained.
Turner said he likes the business because each day
brings a new challenge.
“It’s always different,” he said. “The fun thing is finding it
for them and having it made for them and just meeting
their needs.”
Turner’s plan for El Encanto Mexicano is simple: “Grow
and grow and grow.”
He said he hopes to offer more styles in the future,
including more colonial pieces. Typically, he has about 50
pieces in the store, but he added that a catalog is also
on hand for customers to peruse through.
(LMTBusiness writer Kelly Hildebrandt can be reached
at 728-2547 or by e-mail at [email protected])
Clockwise from top left: A multitude of
wooden furniture pieces crafted in Mexico is
on display in cozy settings at El Encanto
Mexicano, such as this one for the dining
room. A barstool sports a cow skull carved in
wood as a unique backrest. A traditional
favorite at import stores, painted wooden
crosses and metal ones are also available at
El Encanto Mexicano. Dining sets made of
sturdy, rustic materials are graced by colorful
Mexican dishes, also for sale at the import
store. (Michael D. Amici/Laredo Morning
LMTBusiness Journal
December 10, 2001