Rayco Martín Cruz and Alina Vasiljeva, owners of La Tiendita Canaria (Ingenuity) written by @loretosocorro.
We arrive at the town of Ingenio and the warm breeze accompanies us, from the church square to La Tiendita Canaria. On the sidewalks there are people who greet each other and talk and, inside the store, which is located next to the local Tourist Office, some luxurious hosts await us: they are a young couple, Alina who receives us with a smile as shy as splendid and Rayco, who is wrapping a canary wine as a gift, talking and laughing with a grateful client.
Why a young couple become shopkeepers and Canarian products?
We started more than for business, for… philosophy, as a way of life ´Alina tells us, moving her hands like butterfly wings, while Rayco adds that they wanted to promote the local product.
I was studying and living in different countries -Rayco tells us- Just before coming back, I was assistant manager of a hotel in Mexico and when I got tired of living and working for others, I decided to return to the island and do what my body really wanted, which is to work for and for my island.
With a store that values the Canarian product?
That came later. When I arrived I created "Feel Gran Canaria", which was born with the idea of taking anyone to get to know the island, even locals, through private excursions and, for example: to find out about a cheese they not only go to the cheese factory but Also, to the farm and to see the cows, the goats. In short, that they can have contact with nature and that they consume the product directly from the producer.
How did the hosts take the visits to their farms?
In general, very well because the excursions were for a maximum of eight people, since it is a non-invasive visit, the daily work of the rancher and farmer is respected.
Give us an example route
For example: “la taleguita de mamá”, which consists of walking through the town and collecting different products from various places and, in a final place, making a potato broth, the pella and then eating everything collected and cooked by the hikers. And you learn a lot of things.
How is that project going?
Pause. 2020 arrived and everything stopped. While I was looking for tourist statistics and I arrive at the tourist office and I tell Pino (the person who runs the office) what I have in mind. She loves the idea and she tells me about the public competition for the little store: "That suits very well - she told me -, in the end it is to make the local product known". I talk about it with Alina and she thinks it's wonderful because we see that the little store is an operations center where you can go in and out, so that people can try the cheeses from the vineyard, the liqueurs and such... we presented the documentation and after the quarantine we were happy that they grant it to us for six years. We already have two.
"Tirititiri tiriiii.."-Rayco stretches out his hands while humming and, honestly, I don't know how to convey the joy that we contagious Nor for still, neither already de smileIs that why they seem so close and good people?
That's when it came to becoming a shopkeeper, with a special touch of course...
My grandmother had a store in El Sequero, it has nothing to do with it but they are things that I remember... Alina tells us that, when she was very young, she wanted to have a gift shop- They are synchronicities that occur as if they met in England and then Alina came to the island to work in Tourism.
Was it hard to open a store in the middle of the health crisis?
We work together, we support each other and thanks to the little store, as a young couple and in 2020, we managed to get ahead financially. We are happy because by investing everything in "Feel Gran Canaria", we opened this business with the minimum, little by little...
I imagine that with a lot of perseverance and effort...
It was lucky to open in November, when people were starting to go out, with restrictions but with a great desire to be novel and, immediately, Christmas came hand in hand, so many people chose products from the store to give as gifts.
And how did the name of the store come about?
We came back crazy looking for a name. When we came to work here to prepare, restore, clean... if someone asked us where we were going, we always answered "To the little store..!!". So we fell: no man, the name is already there, the little store! We combine it with “Siente Gran Canaria”, to take advantage of the record. Well, in the end, “La Tiendita Canaria” stayed because we have artisan products from all the Canary Islands.
How was the work to update this place?
The site was a bit neglected, the facade still needs to be varnished and painted… Inside we worked on humidity, small light details, etc. Minimal things but that took us a long time.
The DecoraciThe opening of the store leaves those who enter in awe, we see customers walking by and admiring themselves with it and, later, more and more with the products on the shelves.
Except for the wooden shelves, everything was put up by us. -says Rayco- The paintings, apart from decorating the walls, are also sold. Canarian artists leave us their paintings, graphic works, books...
The phone rings at the tourist office and that ring ring from the last century is yet another attraction, another addition to this little shop.
Here Art, artisan products and tastings are combined.. Anything else?
We also do live events, in the patio, such as the night of stories and high-grade wines... with tastings of Canarian products, because we want people to know what is behind each product and it is an original way of doing it.
When did we lose interest in knowing about the products?
Before, we used to buy knowing where everything came from, who produced the products and under what conditions, the quality of the potatoes. Nowadays we go to the supermarket and we have no idea where what we buy comes from, well... I don't even know the person, or even the place.
Do you try to know your suppliers?
I know all the producers in person and we select the product by testing it. I have tried everything I have in this store and I like it.
There is a special corner and it is that Rayco is Lutier in his free moments…
This corner is recent. Music and being a luthier is my hobby, to disconnect. ANDI made that guitar.... Working with guitars helps me and until recently I did it in El Sequero, I have the workshop there, but being here so long they I started asking to the people who brought meaThey will take the guitar to the little store. That was how this site has been becomingAlso in a place input and output of instruments.
Does the Tiendita de Canarias have an open door for girls and boys?
The ones from school come from here next door on an excursion. The teacher usually calls before and then they arrive, they hear about local products and they learn to buy and, of course, to value island products.
What kind of customers visit the store to buy Rayco?
The local consumer is the one who comes here the most, more than the tourists and I like that because I am from "Canario Conoce tu isla". There are customers who come in because they know that we have island products, by word of mouth, and they are people who believe in their quality.
Why do you enjoy talking about the products so much to those who listen to you?
Because I want people to know where the products come from. hI've seen things like a child who did not know that the pláThey came from a plant and he asked the father where the plastic was and I observed the astonishment of another child at the see how he milkedn to an animal and you didn't think milk would come out of there...or a boy who had never walked off the pavement.
Where are the tastings and events held?
In the backyard. It is comfortable and clear. It's another world, even the energy is different -and we noticed it sharing a cast of local cheeses and wines with Rayco and Alina-.
La Tiendita Canaria is more than products because, as Alina told us, it is also transmitting a way of life. With their personalized boxes for gifts, with the tastings and, above all, with the love they have when it comes to pampering the customer who comes to their Little Canary Shop we say goodbye to this man who is a rescuer of arretrancos as he says and of traditions. Those who love smiles and Canarian artisan products have an appointment at La Tiendida Canaria.