Barbara’s Bazaar is a fascinating store. It is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. The owner, Tom Thompson, said that is what happens on most Sunday afternoons when the people from Guadalajara arrive for a weekend of fun. It is his busiest day.
Tom bought Barbara’s Bazaar in 1993 from Barbara Weston. She opened it in 1985 a few doors down from where it is now located. When Tom bought it, there were only two small rooms. Now there are many rooms. It would take days, months maybe, to see everything. Even Tom doesn’t know all the things that are there. He said he is constantly surprised to come across things that he had forgotten about.
The store is a cross between a second hand store and a museum. The lakeside area is home for many world travelers and wealthy collectors. Some of these people come here to live out their last years. When they pass away or decide to move to smaller homes that are easier to maintain, their things often end up at Barbara’s Bazaar.
One room is filled with electronics. One room has nothing but kitchen things, including expensive plates. One room has bedding.
There are many paintings and statues. Their carpet collection hangs from the ceiling. A few years ago, Tom sent some of the expensive carpets to Iran to be rewoven and cleaned. After many months they were shipped back and most of them quickly sold. Some of these carpets sold for thousands of dollars. It was well worth the thousand dollars it cost to have a carpet rewoven and cleaned.
Tom showed me around the store. He obviously loves nice things. He has one room just for the more expensive things, including Tiffany pieces and some beautiful paintings.
There is a Huichol Shaman’s chair next at the entrance of the store.
Not far from it are things from England. There are pieces from every era and every country, all mixed up together.
Tom said that once he had a lamp that was made out of a Chinese Vase. A man came in and immediately bought it. He took it to his car and then returned to the store to tell Tom that the vase was extremely valuable, from the Ching Dynasty. Even though it had a hole in it from the lamp it was still valuable. Tom said, “I didn’t mind that he got a good deal on it because that is just more good advertising for me.”
Another story is about a set of Denby Stoneware. A woman came in and bought it and then told Tom that it was extremely rare and expensive. She had been looking for it for years. Tom showed me a similar set that he has now.
“One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.” That saying has been proven many times in Tom’s career. He said that once he had a little red Bakelite box that he bought at a yard sale for five dollars. It sat on a shelf at the store for several years and didn’t sell. He put it on E Bay for five dollars. It sold for over two thousand dollars. It was a rare piece that completed a set of collectibles. It was a Majorca Soap Box. Now Tom researches the value of the things that come in if he doesn’t know what they are worth. One resource he uses is a service from E Bay. He pays a monthly fee and when he wants to know what something sold for on it he just puts it on their site and gets his answer. It is impossible to know the value of everything that comes into the store. Tom is constantly learning and researching so he can keep up with the values.
Did you know that old give away items from the past with the advertisers names on them are now of value? Or how about old cigarette lighters? He once sold a beer tray for over two thousand dollars that he bought for a few dollars at a yard sale.
He sold a brass plaque that was once on the top of a cash register for twelve hundred dollars. He bought it for sixty dollars. Knowledge is power. For this reason, Tom does most of the pricing of the things that come into the store.
A recent addition to the store is this beautiful French Armoire. Tom buys things from people or puts them in the store on consignment. He charges thirty three percent of the sale price. The store does pick ups and deliveries and if they aren’t too busy, sometimes they will even do moving for people.
The biggest sellers are the couches because furniture that is made in Mexico isn’t of the best quality. But anything you would need to set up a household is also there.
One room is kept locked and Tom has to open it if anyone wants to go inside. He keeps the more valuable things in it.
One year ago Tom opened another store in Guadalajara. It is just for high-end things. Tom said that there is no other store around, either here at Lakeside or in Guadalajara that has things as nice as his and his are priced. He said that the other stores in Guadalajara only tell you a price after you ask and they have decided what you might be willing to pay for it. He said he recently paid several hundred dollars more for an object than what had been quoted to a Mexican friend just a few days earlier. He was very upset at that way of doing business.
There is also a patio area, filled with interesting things.
The Guadalajara Store is located at Lerdo de Tejada 2222, Guadalajara. The telephone number for Tom is: (333) 616 1599 or (376) 766 1824. Tom also sells entire estates, either in his store or in the homes of the owners. His commission is a percentage of the profit.
On October 7th through October 12th there is going to be an estate sale of Mexican furniture from the 18th Century and other exceptional pieces from the estate of May de Polignac. It will be held at Ajijic Independencia 7. You must call for a reservation.
Tom sometimes will take on a project of organizing and selling everything in a household, from their sock drawer to their valuable objects. He told me some sad stories about how families fought and cheated each other during these stressful sales.
He said that in Mexico the oldest daughter is usually the one who doesn’t get married. She stays home and takes care of the parents until they both pass away. Then she inherits the things in the home. Unfortunately, many of the other family members only consider that daughter as the guardian of the things, not the owner. He said that before one sale, the younger daughter would sneak in every night and all night long take the valuable things out for herself while the older daughter wasn’t there. Greed. It is a universal human trait and, unfortunately, Tom is in a business where greed often rears it’s ugly head.
On a lighter note, once a year Tom has a huge sale. He puts fifty percent off on many items and displays them at another store half a block down the street from the main store. It is interesting to visit that store too. The sale will be going on all this month, September.
Tom’s partner of eleven years is Ricardo Quirarte. He also works in the store. He is personable and speaks English. I took his photo but he said I couldn’t put it in the article.
You can see many of the things for sale online at E Bay. E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Store address is: Independencia #7, Ajijic. The vonage phone number is: 210 568 3822.
Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday except Thursday. Closed Thursday. Saturday hours are: 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. and Sunday hours are: 11:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m.
If you are interested in having Tom do an entire estate sale for you, call him. You need to give him at least three weeks advance notice so he can do the advertising. He charges twenty five percent of the profit and more if he has to sift through an entire unorganized estate.
If you want to know more about the area, we are here to help. You can contact me in the comments below and either I or one of the Access team members will be glad to help you and answer questions.
I need my Turkish carpet cleaned. Could someone give me an estimate? I live at Cale del Manglar #159 in Villa Nova. Thanks.
I knew hubert harmon quite well…..such a shame of his later life…I still cherish the jewelry pieces and paintings he had given me in the past….he even did a portrait of me in 1970 when we were both first in ajijic.
Hello Barbara and whoever else might be reading this post. I need an armoire for my bedroom, a large one, say 4’Wide X 6’high for storing clothes as there is no closet in my bedroom. I prefer Mexican style. If you have such a piece, please email me a photo at. email@example.com