Owners: Juana and Raul Ttito
Business: Qosqo Maky
Address: 2515 Mission St.
Type: Peruvian goods
Juana and Raul Ttito immigrated to the U.S. eight years ago, the doting parents looking to follow their grown daughter … and with the dream of a better life for themselves and their two other children.
The industrious couple, who were always artisans, had a successful business for 15 years in the Andean city of Cusco, Peru. They started as street vendors, later taking their concept into a brick-and-mortar location.
Once in the U.S., the idea was to continue to make the same handcrafted items in their warehouse in Cusco, with siblings and their spouses running that side of the business. The sole difference – a major one – would be that the store would now be 4,500 miles north.
At first, having a storefront seemed daunting, as there were the challenges of navigating items such as commercial leases in an adopted country with different laws and a new language to learn.
So Juana and Raul were compelled to peddle their goods at Bay Area flea markets. Once ready to find a storefront again, they were advised by fellow sellers at a flea market in suburban Concord that the best place to sell their wares would be on bustling Mission Street in San Francisco – the heart of a neighborhood where many Latin American immigrants still come to start a new life. Juana and Raul took a walk between 16th and 24th streets and knew they had found their community. They landed a location, signed a rental contract and named their business Qosqo Maky, in a nod to their hometown.
Qosqo Maky’s aisles teem with everything from jewelry and colorful bags to clothes and paintings, with the offering expanded to include items from not just Peru, but from all over Latin America – perfect for gifts. In tribute to Peru, a stuffed llama doll, playfully donning sunglasses and a poncho, greets customers entering the store at 2515 Mission near 20th.
Qosqo Maky is a labor of love, and the small business is a true family affair. The couple’s children are now 30, 23 and 16 years old, with busy lives of their own, yet they still make time to work in the store on weekends. This assistance is needed, as the business is open seven days a week, the indefatigable family no strangers to hard work. Juana and Raul reside upstairs (the one-minute commute time helps!), plus they are in the Mission, the neighborhood where they feel most at home.
Qosqo Maky showcases why it is important to shop local on Mission Street.