Name: Diana Powers, Owner/Founder
Company Name: Bazaar del Mundo
Type of Business: Vibrant shops and restaurants in Old Town State Historic Park
Can you tell us how Bazaar del Mundo came to be?
It came about, well, 50 years ago. I read in the newspaper that the California State Park Department was looking to develop a site that was once a Casa De Pico hotel. Old Town at the time was a sleepy, ghost-like neighborhood. After traveling to Mexico many times, I loved the landscape, architecture, food, entertainment, vibrant colors, everything. So, when I saw the Old Town site in the newspaper, I thought I could re-create some of the marketplaces I had seen in Mexico and put something together that is different from what Old Town has seen. It included state-of-the-art shopping boutiques, delicious Mexican food and a sense of adventure. This space would attract wide appeal and provide happiness, fun, culture, and artistic value and it has evolved over the years. It started with one restaurant in the courtyard, four stores and I subleased some space, and as time went on, I was able to see what the public was enjoying.
What can people expect when visiting Bazaar del Mundo?
Lots of visual delight — it’s colorful and exciting with beautiful displays of merchandise. Many artists work with us and we often have visitors coming back every week and even every day (including locals). So, we constantly change our displays to keep the merchandise fresh and very carefully pick what we put in our stores. The area we have here is fun and festive. When visitors come into our stores, they share how beautiful it all is and they look happy. They love the color—it’s uplifting, and I think helps boost the energy. You go from area to area—between our two buildings and courtyard—and every time you turn the corner you experience something different. As you wander through, you discover all these beautiful products from different parts of the world, as well as artwork from local and California-based artists.
The restaurants are also a big part of our business. You’ll find Casa Guadalajara here in Old Town with additional restaurants throughout the region. They all have beautiful gardens and décor. Bazaar Del Mundo feels like a destination in and of itself. Come down and have lunch, spend the whole afternoon shopping and end it with an excellent Mexican dinner.
What are some pivotal events and cherished moments since starting 50 years ago?
Every day is a pivotal moment, but some of the memorable main events have been the Fabric Fantasy Festival, Latin American Festival and Mata Ortiz Pottery Market. Opening each restaurant is also a pivotal moment. When we moved down the street to where Bazaar Del Mundo is now located, it gave us the ability to expand in every direction. That’s when we started to bring some light to this end of Old Town.
How did Bazaar del Mundo shift during COVID-19?
We had challenges when COVID-19 hit, but we stood strong and so did all our employees. Our customers kept supporting us and we were able to implement a takeout service that continues to do well. We created a take-home fiesta buffet and offered catering and expanded our outdoor patios. Nonstop, we’re thinking about how to keep the visual enrichment element, enhance the flavors by constantly changing the menu and making sure we provide the outdoor space to meet comfortably. Of course, we complied with all the sanitation requirements and guidelines, maybe even went overboard! I think people felt safe here since there’s so much open space to roam.
What are some future projects we should expect?
Guests are invited to celebrate at “Bazaar del Mundo’s 50th Anniversary Fiesta and Marketplace” that will begin on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. with a kickoff celebration at 6 p.m. with VIP guests, mariachi, folklorico dancers and longtime Bazaar del Mundo favorite TINKU (a Latin American folk band), birthday cake, and other surprises. Throughout the weekend guests will enjoy a lively marketplace filled with colorful and elaborately decorated booths and a showcase of authentic handcrafted art, jewelry, vibrant Mexican clothing and more. Visiting artists will include Bazaar del Mundo favorites, Mata Ortiz pottery, Jacobo Angeles Oaxacan wood carvings, Pedro Montaño Oaxacan weavers and other local artists.
Other projects include adding a café to our store area and maybe adding another patio to Casa Guadalajara. The growth keeps going, so you could also expect a few special events coming down the pipeline. Many artists have taken the time this past year to create, so we’re excited to see what comes out from it. Lastly, we can’t help but add onto our different menus!