Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

A Tradition That's Catching On.

Byline: K.C. Mason Journal Staff Writer

* Exhibitions and demonstrations are added attractions at the showcase for New Mexico artisans

Don't tell the developers, shopkeepers and partners at Traditions! that they have no future at their isolated location on Interstate 25 midway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

After five months in business, optimism reigns that the "festival marketplace," which occupied the space vacated more than a year ago by New Mexico Outlet Center, is catching on as a cultural/heritage center and showcase for New Mexico artisans.

The biggest challenge, said managing director Myra Cochnar, is "making people understand that we are not an outlet mall."

About half of the 45 storefronts are occupied by galleries, weaving shops, jewelry stores, specialty shops, food stores and restaurants all featuring arts, crafts and food products of New Mexico.

Several displays contain ribbons and certificates from Indian Market, Spanish Market and the New Mexico State Fair. The prices are not in the factory-outlet range, but neither are they as high as comparable items in downtown Santa Fe.

"These high-end, hand-crafted pieces are more affordable at Traditions! because the marketplace overhead is lower," said Cochnar, noting that rent is $4 a square foot a year compared with $4-$6 a square foot a month in downtown Santa Fe. …

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