BERNALILLO — Fawn Dolan’s livelihood began in 1996 when she drove through Bernalillo and noticed a little barber shop with a “For Rent” sign. She put down $150 on the building the following day to obtain it, and the rest is history.
Fast forward to 2021, and Camino Real Antiques is still going strong celebrating 25 years of operations with Dolan in charge.
“It’s been fun. I mean, it seems like that 25 years went by pretty quickly,” she said. “It’s a huge milestone for a number of reasons, being a minority female in business and seeing how many other businesses in Bernalillo that were female-run are no longer in existence. We’ve made a statement in Bernalillo, and people realize that we’re here, have been here and are going to be here for a while still.”
Camino Real Antiques opened Aug. 1, 1996, with a measly 250 square feet in floor space and roughly 250 items, serving customers three days a week. Today, it’s a 6,000 square-foot building open daily and features more than 25,000 items. The store’s located at the intersection of Camino del Pueblo and Avenida Bernalillo.
Camino Real Antiques sells Western and Native American-themed items, from boots, hats and blankets to artifacts and pottery.
“We are Native as well, and I like buying from the different Pueblo Indians that come in and sell their items. Just supporting them, their culture and their creativity and their skill,” said Dolan, who is of Alaskan Native descent. “And a lot of people like the Southwest. Cowboy and Indian things kind of go together… As days gone by, it appeals to people; I think for people that are living in the southwest, moving into this area, they want to have that feel, that look.”
Aside from being located on was once part of historic Route 66, Dolan said her establishment’s become a go-to stop in town for travelers heading west.
She also said her store’s proximity to the Pueblo reservations, Santa Fe and Taos, as well as the history of the Camino Real — which was originally a big thoroughfare for trade between Mexico and Santa Fe — add to the appeal, too.
“We get a lot of locals and a lot of tourists. I just think ‘location, location, location.’ It’s a draw, it’s a magnet. People come to Bernalillo to get out of the big city of Albuquerque,” Dolan said.
To celebrate Camino Real Antiques’ 25th anniversary, Dolan said merchandise will be sold for 25 and 50 percent off Aug. 6-Aug. 9. And given her store’s already a quarter-century old, she also said she’ll display a jar of quarters where customers can win a $100 gift certificate by correctly guessing how much money is in the jar.
Ultimately, Dolan said being in business also allows her to share her personal knowledge of Bernalillo with customers.
“It’s a special place for me,” Dolan said.