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AZTEC — Offering gift items that are "out of the box" is the mission of the newest store in downtown Aztec, its owners say.

The Lil Aztec Flower Shop, located at 101 N. Main Ave., was opened Dec. 10 by Aztec residents Susan and Guillermo “Willie” Aguirre in the corner location that formerly housed the Sweetpea Café.

The shop specializes in Real Touch flowers — silk flowers that look and feel very similar to fresh flowers. Susan explained that this type of flower is often preferred by hospital patients who can’t handle the smell of real flowers, as well as elderly shut-ins who don’t want to care for real ones.

Susan Aguirre, who worked as a florist in Aztec’s Safeway supermarket for the past three years, said owning a shop like this has long been her dream.

“I noticed that there just isn’t anything like this around here,” she said. “When you see Real Touch flowers in an arrangement, you really can’t tell the difference.”

Aguirre said the store also offers arrangements of real flowers, balloon bouquets and unusual, tailor-made gift baskets.

“For example, there’s a gift basket for new mothers with Gripe Water (an herbal supplement designed to ease a baby’s colic) and ticker clocks in it so new mothers can find some relief from a crying baby,” she said. “The basket also has a heating pad because new mothers are often sore.”

Another gift example, Aguirre said, is a housewarming basket that contains bread to symbolize a wish for lack of hunger, salt to symbolize that the recipient is the salt of the earth, and a small pouch containing change to symbolize financial security.

“And, of course, flowers, so (recipients) can know love,” she said. “I just have a lot of ideas for making things special, and I can make anything you can imagine.”

Before moving to Aztec three years ago, the couple lived in El Paso, where they owned a landscaping business. They made periodic visits to see their son, who lives in Farmington, and would often drive through Aztec on those trips.

“We used to pass by, and I’d tell her, ‘Someday, that will be your shop. When it comes up for rent, we’ll get it,’” Willie Aguirre said.

After the Sweetpea Café closed several months ago, Susan Aguirre said her husband surprised her with a key and led her to the store.

“The key opened the door, and I just lost it,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to own something that engulfs love, and flowers are love.”

Susan Aguirre said the Real Touch flowers have been selling well, but she said she is disappointed that she hasn’t been able to find a U.S. distributor for them.

“They come from China, and I have to keep that in mind because of the amount of time it takes to get them in after ordering them,” she said, adding that she is continuing to search for a U.S. distributor, as she would like everything in the store to be American made.

The couple said their bouquets, which range in price from $24 to $150, can be delivered for an extra fee of $5 for Aztec, $10 for Bloomfield, and $20 for Farmington locations.

The Aguirres’ business plans don’t end with the new shop. They said they plan to branch out as soon as the flower shop is well established.

“We want to open up a tamale shop,” Susan Aguirre said. “Trust me, my tamales are special.”

The pair hopes to rent the space on the next block that was vacated several months ago by the Sunshine Bakery. The Aguirres plan to make and sell other types of Mexican food in addition to tamales.

Their primary goal, Susan Aguirre said, is to help turn Aztec’s Main Avenue into a special place to shop. To further that goal, they have formed partnerships with nearby businesses, including the Feat of Clay artists co-op and gallery, which has photos of flowers they hope to display, and Soaps on Main, which is already working on a special soap — floral scented, of course — that will be available for purchase at the Lil Aztec Flower Shop.

“I just love the businesses here,” she said. “Aztec has such a special feel, and if we all support each other, we can make it such a special place.”

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.

More information

What: Lil Aztec Flower Shop

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: 101 N. Main Ave. in Aztec

Details: Visit the shop's Facebook page or call 505-334-7208

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