In March, Springfield residents have come to know and expect a few things: spring rain, warmer weather, trees regrowing their leaves and the annual pop up of Tessoro Imports.
Located off Campbell Avenue in the ParkCrest Center parking lot, Tessoro Imports is a pop-up store that sells genuine Mexican crafts imported directly from around 20 families in Mexico. Multi-colored clay pots, iron statues and vibrantly painted iguanas line the edge of the parking lot near as owner and lone operator, Fernando Fragoso darts from end to end helping swaths of customers that, according to Fragoso, have come annually since his start more than five years ago.
“It’s been amazing to see people coming here every year just to buy from me because they know my products are good quality and there is no middle man between me and the families back in Mexico,” Fragoso said. “Each year I have to increase my stock because I keep selling out so unbelievably quickly.”
Fragoso said this year he had to increase his stock from one trailer container to three. As customers poured in, he noted at just how quickly he was selling despite the large stock.
Fragoso has spent decades as a catering professional in Chicago while raising his daughter and his son with his wife. Fragoso said he grew worn out of the business and eventually looked into other careers which eventually led to him selling Mexican crafts.
“In the beginning, I started selling imports from Mexico that were sold to me by middle men,” Fragoso said. “I’ve always believed in helping people, so I looked into finding these families in Mexico who create pottery and other crafts as a needed source of income, and I began to sell directly from them so they can have more money.”
Fragoso now sells from around 20 families in Mexico. Some of these families, according to Fragoso, are in remote areas and initially were distrusting of “outsiders,” but after a few meetings and interactions with them they soon came to trust him enough to let him buy and sell their pots and crafts.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these families were financially crippled during the country’s lockdown. Seeing this, Fragoso put 50% down up front on this year's products last year to help them get through.
Fragoso’s nephew, who is helping Fragoso set up his wares, Enrique Moreno, said the work his uncle does is admirable.
“He helps people and he sells good products,” Moreno said. “It’s no wonder everyone loves his shop. It’s amazing.”
Fragoso sells at the ParkCrest Center every year in March. All of his wares are separated by category and each one has a universal price, this way, according to Fragoso, it is easier to guarantee fair pay to the families in Mexico.
Each piece is authentic and in the style of traditional Mexican crafts and priced competitively due to the lack of middle men in the sales, according to Fragoso.
If you would like to learn more about Tessoro Imports, check out its Facebook.
Follow Todd Dearing on Twitter, @mtodddearing
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