Banana and Bear is El Paso’s new art shop on wheels

Alvarez, an El Paso Community College graduate who is now attending UTEP and pursuing a degree in business, has been crafting and selling her handmade works of art at markets ever since 2014. She has just recently opened her own mobile shop this past weekend.  

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Alvarez

Alvarez, an El Paso Community College graduate who is now attending UTEP and pursuing a degree in business, has been crafting and selling her handmade works of art at markets ever since 2014. She has just recently opened her own mobile shop this past weekend. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Alvarez

Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor

The concept of being mobile and nomadic has been around for some time, the Bedouins crossed the desert, the gypsies ventured across Europe as did the hippie vendors who followed the Grateful Dead. Now mobile vendor Vanessa Alvarez is doing the same with her new mobile shop, Banana and Bear.  

Alvarez, an El Paso Community College graduate and business major at UTEP, has been crafting and selling her handmade art at markets since 2014. However, this past week, she launched her own mobile shop. The idea to open her own shop stemmed from her love of creating art,Alavarez wanted to fill her shop with her handmade jewelry and showcase other local vendorsBanana and Bear was named after her two ferrets because to Alvarez, they are cute, playful, and fun which is the energy she hopes her store radiates. . 

Banana and Bear’s products consist of handmade pins, necklaces, keychains, rings, knick knacks, and thrifted clothing, with varied prices. Clothing costs between $3 to $20 while handmade items range from $4 to $10. The products are made with different types of materials such as resin and clay.  

Alvarez runs her mobile shop inside of a vintage camper, an idea influenced by Portland women who use campers as mobile shops.  

I thought it would be a great idea to bring that concept to El Paso, not to mention it was the perfect size for quantity of inventory I normally carry,Alvarez said “If one location doesn’t work well then, I can get up and move at any time. It is also super cute and goes very well with the theme of my quirky jewelry.” 

The mobile shop is in front of El Paso’s Galleria Lincoln and Old Sheep Dog Brewery every other weekend. Alvarez also sells her creations on Etsy, which she also manages all by herself, leading to consider herself a “one-woman show.”  

“It’s a lot of work but I love the look on people’s faces when they find something, they like that I made, or when they can relate to a silly pin that says ay ay on it,” Alvarez said. 

Alvarez wants to inspire other struggling local artists by proving anything is possible if you work hard to achieve it. She hopes people understand this isn’t something that happened over night, it is a business that has taken time and dedication.  

“If you enjoy something go after it, because it’s better to say that you tried it and failed, than to look back and regret not taking the risk,” Alvarez saidFor more information, follow the Banana and Bear store on Instagram @bananaandbear or on Facebook as Banana and Bear.’  To shop Banana and Bear’s products, visit its Etsy web page. 

Alyson Rodriguez may be reached at [email protected].