Cathie Anderson

Migrant sons expand Kulture in midtown Sacramento

Start-up retailers Cuahutemoc Vargas and David Garcia already are taking Kulture to the next level, doubling the size of the store they opened in midtown Sacramento in July.

Their store, Kulture, took over the roughly 500-square-foot space that Theresa’s Antiques had occupied at 1006 24th St. Last month, they learned that a potential tenant had passed on the space next door to them and they quickly snapped it up.

“I want to grow it. I want this to be the baby,” said Garcia. “People have been asking if we have another store. That gets my wheels turning. It’s just finding the right location and price.”

The two men, both children of migrant workers, said they will be having a party to celebrate their new addition from 4-8 p.m. on Second Saturday. The store carries T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and ball caps emblazoned with Aztec-inspired images and Spanish-language phrases, apparel that the two men created with a third partner and began selling online under the Keepin It Paisa label. Kulture also sells Latin American imports such as clay pottery, figurines, art prints and more.

When customers come in, the two men translate the phrases for those who don’t speak Spanish and share personal memories associated with the items they sell. Garcia and Vargas wanted to add other items, they said, but they didn’t have the space to do it.

“It was too small for what we wanted to bring, the imports and all the stuff,” Garcia said. “We had no room. We wanted to expand the clothing, put more of it out.”

The two men first appeared in this column in December, when they shared the meaning of some of the phrases on the clothing they created with their graphic artist pal, Sem Lona. They sell, for instance, items that look like San Francisco Giants apparel but emblazoned with the words ‘San Pancho.’ The cross-cultural reference might stump some people.

“Anybody named Francisco, for short, we call him Pancho,” Garcia explained in that earlier column. “People who live in San Francisco, not just the Latinos, they know this nickname. It’s a phrase I’ve heard from my dad. Instead of saying, ‘We’re going to San Francisco,’ it’s ‘We’re going to San Pancho.’ 

After the column, Vargas said, hats sold out and they had to order more. A lot of people read that column, Garcia and Vargas said, and they either referenced the article or they came into the store holding the paper.

“They said, ‘Here, you keep this. Give it to your mom and dad,’ ” Vargas said. “ ‘I’m sure they are so proud of you.’ 

The expansion has allowed the two men, who met as students at Sacramento State, room to leave space for people to step back and admire the inventory and to add a table and chairs where customers can sit and converse.

They also have expanded the number of items they are selling, putting more clothing on the floor and adding Mexican crafts, or artesanía.

Two noticeable additions are the lustrous barro negro, or black clay pottery, and the elaborate designs on the Huichol art, masks and wood sculptures covered in tiny, brightly colored beads. A type of folk art, Huichol is named for the native people of Durango, Jalisco and Nayarit.

“I haven’t had the good fortune to see how they do the process,” Vargas said, “but it’s something that the artist sells a lot. We brought it in on consignment.”

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee