Places to Shop in Santa FeBefore you start shopping, think about why you're buying. If it's a gift of jewelry for your eight-year-old niece who may lose it and will surely outgrow it, choose the least expensive option. If you're looking for finer goods, there are lots of options in varying degrees of quality and price.
- Palace of Governors: Native Americans sell their wares here on the plaza, spread on the sidewalk. Anyone selling at the Palace is Native American, and either they or a member of their family made the goods. Quality is best on weekends and in the morning. I'd rather buy here than pay exorbitant gallery markups.
- Plaza and Vicinity: Lots of galleries and some "tourist" shops.
- Canyon Road" A road of historic houses converted into galleries and restaurants. The most expensive area in town, but also the highest quality. It's a great place for a late afternoon stroll followed by dinner.
- Pueblos: At most pueblos, you can buy directly from the artists in small shops. Prices are lower than galleries (who often mark up by 60% or more), but for a well-know artist,the will still not be not cheap. Items will be limited to that pueblo's style.
Price ComparisonsBecause there are so many options for shopping in Santa Fe, I set out to sample price and quality variations. I priced a simple half-inch-wide, adult-sized silver bracelet at many places in Santa Fe. This is what I found:
- Palace of the Governors: $25 to $40. Nicely made, thick solid-silver bracelets, some with stamped decorations. You will most likely be buying directly from the artist.
- Jewelry carts on the Plaza: $25 to $35. Bracelets here were poorer quality and thinner. One vendor claimed to have made the items for sale, but others made no mention.
- Plaza shops: $65 to $100. Slightly heavier bracelets with more detailed designs.
- Museum of Art: $150. Similar to plaza shops. I did not inquire whether the artist's work was particularly prized.
- Sissler's: $30. They have brochures everywhere saying they have the lowest prices. Quality was similar to the plaza jewelry carts. They were offering 30% off on the day I visited.
Some shops will offer discounts from their listed prices, particularly if you buy more than one item from them. It doesn't hurt to ask.