The centrally located John Dunn Shops have something for everyone
By Haven Lindsey & Photos by sam joseph
At the heart of Taos’ Historic District, enveloped in a canvas of trees, surrounded by landscaped flower gardens, with soft background music and welcoming places to sit, relax, absorb and repeat, the John Dunn Shops offer a quaint, pedestrian, pet-friendly experience as the answer to its more lively, vehicular-friendly neighbor, the Taos Plaza..
In the center where pedestrian paths intersect is a small — yet noticeable — clothing shop aptly named The Little Place Boutique. Rita Jennerjahn has owned the boutique for nearly 20 years, and whether you are a local or a tourist, everyone recognizes the location due to the brightly adorned hat rack positioned outside the front door.
Inside the boutique, shoppers will find fair trade women’s wear, resort clothing, jewelry, and accessories. The shop is a rainbow of bright, vibrant colors with clothing from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland and more. Jennerjahn’s eye for the commonsense, classic means she carries all-natural fibers and fashionable styles that are preshrunk and can be easily washed and often dried. Distinctive, top-of-the-line brands like Dolcezza, Jams World, Tulip, Lisette and Sabaku are exceeded only by the quality of customer service. Jennerjahn makes a point to support local artists when possible, and carries locally-made items. For anyone who takes shopping seriously, Jennerjahn has plans to retire, and The Little Place Boutique is currently for sale. Along with a wool sweater made in Ireland, you could purchase the entire store.
Nearby is Seconds Eco Store, a shop owned and operated in the John Dunn Shops by mixed media artist Sara Basehart since 2010. Basehart believes in sustainable living, and her store inspires everyone to remember we leave a wake behind everything we do (and purchase), and shopping responsibly takes mere ‘seconds.’
Seconds Eco Store is a gallery filled with recycled, solar powered, handmade and environmentally-friendly products that are, not only creative in design, but also functional. Basehart works with artists and businesses committed to a more conscientious brand of consumerism by reusing, recycling and upcycling materials to ultimately help reduce our carbon footprint. Basehart is involved in the community, and sponsors the popular and highly-entertaining Glam Trash Fashion Show, the annual recycled wearable art runway.
Taos’ only all-woman cooperative gallery, Las Comadres Gallery, sits closest to the ingress and egress of the Taos Plaza. Comprised of 10 local artists who alternate working in the store, shoppers can enjoy the rare opportunity to meet at least one of the handcrafters. The Los Camadres artists’ make and sell an assortment of items including jewelry, ceramics, and artwork made from fabrics, glass, acrylics, watercolors, beeswax, metal and more.
With locally-made and affordable items, locals and tourists know Los Camadres — with the cozy front porch — is the place to purchase unique gifts while supporting local female artists.
At the opposite end of the John Dunn Shops from Los Camadres is op. cit. Books, which faces Bent Street. The two-story bookstore, complete with endearingly creaky wood floors, is based in the original home of John Dunn, built in 1920, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The abbreviation of the Latin phrase opus citatum (meaning the work cited), op.cit. typically refers the reader to a bibliography, which loosely translates to the study of books — apropos for the store that stocks a range of bestsellers, regional titles, children’s books, poetry and more. And if they don’t have the title you’re looking for, they will happily order it for you.
op. cit. Books caters to a range of readers, has a popular used book section, and a long-standing mystery book club where members meet each month for lunch and discuss the book with the author — some who are local and others who travel to Taos for the opportunity.
In addition to these four local retailers, the John Dunn Shops include businesses that specialize in kitchen wares, textiles and fiber arts, rocks and beads, children’s clothing, leather goods, and men’s and women’s clothing. There is a coffee shop, a restaurant with al fresco dining options and, most recently, the arrival of a food cart and other seasonal offerings. Stores are generally open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a parking lot and public restrooms are in close proximity.