New Shop Brings Peruvian Products To Downtown Berlin

New Shop Brings Peruvian Products To Downtown Berlin
New Shop

BERLIN – Arts and crafts from the mountains of Peru have made their way to downtown Berlin with the opening of a new Pitts Street shop.

At Inca Ruins, items ranging from alpaca fur slippers to handcrafted retablos line the shelves. Owners Ken Briggs and Cesar Raygada say they are thrilled to bring something different to America’s Coolest Small Town.

“Everyone’s been so friendly and interested in the new business,” Raygada said. “It’s been good.”

The pair decided to open the shop in Berlin after spending several years selling their products at craft shows and special events.

Raygada, who is from Peru, says the concept started when he came to the United States to attend college. His friends at school admired his Peruvian clothing and started asking him to bring them back a hat or a scarf or some shoes every time he went home. That’s when he realized he could turn it into a business.

“It’s something different for people,” Raygada said.

Now, he and Briggs coordinate with the crafters in Peru to stock their shop, which is located at 12 Pitts St. Because they’re dealing directly with the individuals making the products, prices are lower than most shoppers expect. Raygada and Briggs are also able to experiment with different products.

After seeing how well the ballerina shoes adorned with traditional Incan patterns sold during the past few weeks, Raygada has asked crafters in Peru to make a loafer-style shoe from the same fabric as well as a basketball shoe.

“I always had the idea but I wasn’t sure if people would like it,” he said. “But we’re going to try it.”

Along with the shoes, the simple white summer dresses hanging in the children’s section of the store have generated interest. In fact, female customers have told Raygada and Briggs they would love to see them in adult sizes. Raygada has now asked the dressmaker in Peru to start working on some for next spring’s inventory.

“If someone gives us an idea and it’s cool, we’ll run with it,” Briggs said.

Briggs and Raygada are also thinking ahead to other products for the coming year, such as beach inspired home décor.

“The further south you go in Peru the sand changes to rocks and shells,” Raygada said, adding that along with decorative items they’d have jewelry made from shells.

In addition to apparel, Inca Ruins has an extensive array of jewelry, Peruvian crafts and fair trade coffee. Alpaca wool blankets and alpaca fur rugs are expected to be big sellers through the winter. Raygada compared alpacas in Peru to horses in Kentucky and said that was why the fiber from the animals was used to make so many products.

A new addition to the shop is a selection of retablos, decorative wooden boxes depicting historical and religious scenes.

“It’s a piece of art,” Briggs said, adding that retablo-making was a popular craft in the Andes.

Inca Ruins also has an extensive selection of designer dog apparel, which Briggs is hoping will prove popular as the temperature drops. He and Raygada have even started posting photos of dogs wearing Inca Ruins apparel on the shop’s wall.

Inca Ruins is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Hours will be expanded for the holiday shopping season.