Authenticity sets Native American jewelry, art, crafts store apart
Q & A with Ernie Lister, owner of Hotel Trading Post in the Hotel St. Michael breezeway at 110 S. Montezuma St., Suite D. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 778-7276.
Q: What service did you provide in the community?
A: "The Hotel Trading Post offers a wide variety of rare Native American arts and crafts, including antique jewelry, pottery, rugs, painting and dolls and contemporary Native American handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces from well-known artists of the Southwest, including Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Rio Grande Pueblo, Apache and Tohono tribes."
Q: How did you get into this business?
A: "Hotel Trading began in 1990. As a desire to offer top-quality collectibles for discerning customers, we started the gallery to respond to the need of providing the best and affordable prices. As full-blooded Native Americans, it was our desire to offer the best as opposed to manufactured or outsourced pieces often sold on television by celebrities.
"We started the gallery to spotlight Native American art and collectibles."
Q: What is the key to your business longevity?
A: "Having been in business for 22 years in the same gallery setting, I would have to say it's providing the product as well as the service of providing information concerning artists both alive and gone."
Q: What's something unique about your business?
A: "What makes our gallery unique is that it is also a place where I show my work as a silversmith, which I have done since the 1970s. I work many days on special items, which people have ordered.
"My silversmithing has resulted in winning many awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, as well as doing a one-man show at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. It's the pride of passing down the art which was given to me by many."
Q: What's the best business advice you've given or received?
A: "Provide the best affordable product possible."
Q: How are you handling the economy?
A: "Our gallery has been fortunate in that there are many who love and appreciate Native American art and will still collect it as a form of enjoyment and investment."
Q: How many hours a week do you work?
A: "I work Monday through Friday about 50 hours a week. Yet there is much work done off the clock, traveling, visiting artists and attending ceremonials."
Q: If you could take a week away, what would you do?
A: "I would go to London, England, to visit the museum that houses many of the early Native American artifacts taken from this area. It's better to see them personally than to read about them in a book."