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Made in New Mexico

With her distinctly Sante Fe store, Laurie Edwards Wilson finds success with locals and tourists alike.



Above: Manager Joanne Buchanan checks out a customer.

Teca Tu — A Pawsworthy Pet Emporium, Santa Fe, NM

OWNER: Laurie Edwards Wilson; URL:; LOCATIONS: 1; INSTAGRAM:; AREA: 3,200 square feet; TOP BRANDS: Tiki Cat, Red Barn, Petcurean, Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Koda Pet, Ruffwear, RC, Gold Paw Series, Sandia Pet Products, Bowsers Pet Products, Positively Gourmet, Fluff & Tuff, Treponti, Woof Wear; EMPLOYEES: 2 full-time, 3 part-time

Laurie Edwards Wilson

Laurie Edwards Wilson

LAURIE EDWARDS WILSON never imagined that one day she would own a pet business in Santa Fe, NM. Not while growing up in Minnesota, nor when she and her husband, Hersch, moved to New Mexico in the ’80s to evolve his family’s conference center by adding team-building programs for Fortune 500 companies. It was only after Wilson earned her business degree at age 52 and attended culinary school that the couple sold the center and began looking for their next opportunities. She learned a Santa Fe pet store called Teca Tu was for sale and bought it in 2005.

“It was a totally new adventure for me because I had never done retail before,” says Wilson, who with her husband has had many dogs over the years. “But it turned out to be the right decision. People are really happy in the store because they’re either with their pets or talking about their pets. It’s just a happy place.”

Congratulations From One of Your Top-Selling Brands

Contributing to the joyous atmosphere at Teca Tu — A Pawsworthy Emporium are familiar faces of longtime team members, plus a New Mexico-infused aesthetic and product lineup that appeals to locals and tourists alike.

Shop Local

Located in DeVargas Center shopping mall, customers can’t help but feel drawn to the store’s exterior. Native grasses and flowers fill large planters, with signage and awning in a traditional Santa Fe color palette. A complementary umbrella offers shade for a small patio furniture set. Inside, Wilson uses warm woods throughout against a white background.

“I try for the emporium/country store ambience with lots of pine accents in the displays,” she explains. “We want the customer and their pets to feel comfortable and welcomed.


Teca Tu carries healthy foods, treats and other products from well-known national brands, but local lines help set it apart. One in particular dates back to 1995.

“Diane Buchard began the store by designing and making vests and coats for dogs out of Pendleton trade blankets,” Wilson says of the Native

American-inspired material sourced from the Oregon company. “The business grew from there, and now the vests and coats are our signature item.”

The apparel, which ranges in price from $64 to $89 for a dog vest to $69 to $199 for a coat, are hand-cut by her and then sewn by Martha Black, a local seamstress who adds hook-and-loop fasteners and silver-tone concha adornments. Customers also can place special orders if their dogs don’t fit into standard sizes. Because the Pendleton vests and coats are made in New Mexico and exclusive to the store, they are popular with visitors seeking local products to serve as mementos.

Among the many other locally made items available are dehydrated organ treats from Red Mesa Meats and gear in Native American-inspired designs from Sandia Pet Products. Pets can even take home a T-shirt or bandana featuring the New Mexico state flag.

The store’s trademark Pendleton coats and vests have their own armoire; store dog Mowgli models a custom size.

Tourist & Resident Attractions

The locally made lines feature prominently in a savvy marketing effort for Teca Tu: display windows at prominent Sante Fe hotels La Fonda on the Plaza and the Eldorado Hotel & Spa.

“We put our New Mexico products in them — the Pendleton coats, our chili pepper toys and cookies, things that would catch the eye of a tourist,”

Wilson says. “We get a lot of people in the store from seeing those windows.”

A cat habitat with a window opening into the mall also attracts customers. Operated by Felines & Friends New Mexico, it has helped hundreds of cats find good homes. Volunteers from the organization come in twice a day to feed and play with the cats, which has also proved to be good for business.

“It’s a win-win,” she says. “A lot of people see the cats, so they are adopted, but it also brings people into our store, which is always a good thing. Plus, if they adopt a cat, they usually buy some items from us.”

Paw prints lead shoppers to the interior entrance of the store.

Keys to Continued Success

Drawing from her vast and varied business background, Wilson pushed Teca Tu past the $1 million annual gross sales mark in 2020, with that number continuing to climb by 10% yearly despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic. She attributes much of the success to her team.

Senior manager Mira Lopez and manager Joanne Buchanan have been with the store for more than 25 years — “That is unique in itself,” Wilson says — and their familiar faces contribute to customer loyalty and repeat visits, as does their knowledge of pet nutrition, health and behavior.

To maintain such employee retention in a high-turnover industry and a tough employment market, Wilson says she treats her staff like family.

Also on board are part-timers Elaine Anton, Mikaela Crazyhorse-Rodriguez and Canace Montiel. Salaried team members receive generous monthly bonuses when the store meets year-over-year goals, and all gather for monthly dinners at fun restaurants.

Also contributing to Teca Tu’s growth during the pandemic was its status as an essential business, curbside pickup and delivery. For the latter, Wilson again turned to a New Mexico-based provider: “We partner with a local delivery company called Fetch to enable our customers to get anything from our store delivered in a timely fashion.”


All of the above helps the store compete with big-box and online-online retailers, and Wilson has ready a message to those who price shop with her.

“I tell people we can’t compete with Amazon pricing,” she says. “But you’re not going to get the customer service from Amazon that you do here.

You can come in, try on the coats, have your dog play with the toys, and get our expertise on food and nutrition. You won’t get that on the internet.”

And customers, whether from near or far, certainly won’t feel as if they’re shopping at a true New Mexico small business.

Five Cool Things About Teca Tu — A Pawsworthy Pet Emporium

1. WHY TECA TU: The store’s name is a play on words. Original owner Diane Buchard found a little white dog on the side of the road in a town called Tecolote, which means “owl” in Spanish. When Wilson bought the store, she felt the name was good karma and decided to keep it.

2. HAPPY HOUR: Once a month during the summer and fall, Teca Tu hosts Pawsitively Pub Hour and invites customers to enjoy cocktails — doggie beer for the pups — and gourmet treats. Attendees can get a discount on select products and spin-the-wheel for freebies.

3. IN SESSION: Assistance Dogs of the West team members regularly bring service dogs in training to the store for real-life lessons.

4. COMMUNITY SERVICE: Teca Tu provides ongoing support to Street Homeless Animal Project, an organization that helps keep homeless human and animal family members together. Wilson says, “We have a large box outside our store where customers can donate food, clothing and/or toys. We also donate food to this endeavor.”

5. MANI-PEDIs: The store hosts a quarterly nail trim clinic — free for its customers. Of course, they shop while in the store and contribute to sales boosts on those days.




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