Small family business that lost storefront to lockdowns launches at major Toronto mall – blogTO

A small family business that’s been operating without a storefront during lockdowns has just launched their very own pop-up shop at a major Toronto shopping mall.

Eaton Centre just temporarily became home to Pacha Arts, an independent family business that focuses on Indigenous makers.

Their former storefront had closed down in July 2020, and they’ve been operating solely online ever since. This pop-up at the mall is their first foray back out into the in-person world.

“It became unrealistic for us to continue to pay rent at a store that we didn’t know if we would even be able to keep open because of the regulations at that time for non-essential businesses,” Samay Arcentales Cajas of Pacha tells blogTO.

“Because some of us in the family are immunocompromised we also wanted to be as safe as possible and at the time there wasn’t any vaccines available.”

Nordstrom at the Eaton Centre has been rotating different small businesses into their store, and reached out to Pacha Arts. They’re currently stationed at Nordstrom in front of their Ebar cafe.

Pacha works with many kinds of artists to sell Indigenous art, accessories, jewellery, leather bags, special masks and home decor from North and South America. This includes decor from their home territory of Imbabura, Ecuador.

“From visual arts and beadwork from across Ontario, to textiles and leather from our own home community, each item holds its own unique style according to the artist’s own traditional motifs, paired with contemporary designs,” says Arcentales Cajas.

“Moving away from cultural appropriation and towards the uplifting of Indigenous communities is so, so important. Being able to hold each handmade item is also different from looking at it online. You’re able to see every groove, and every mark that makes it different from anything else.”

The shop is currently open every day at the Eaton Centre, with hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. except on Sundays when they’re open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They’ll be stationed there until July 4.

“We hope for this to be the beginning of the next phase in our journey as a family that started much before Pacha Arts first became established on Bloor St. W.,” says Arcentales Cajas.

“We are excited to work with more textiles from our home community and keep working with artists based on Turtle Island, to maintain those trading networks that have existed for thousands of years.”