Cash is cash in any language — just ask the owner of a new DUMBO boutique that accepts Mexican pesos.
Maurice Shrem, owner of Escondido, a store at 145 Front St. that specializes in high-end Mexican artisan-made items, said he has nothing against the dollar, but making transactions in pesos makes sense for a business that gets all of its goods south of the border.
“It’s a great way to show respect for the country,” said Shrem, a dentist who decided to open the store after visiting Mexico and falling in love with the country. “It’s better for us to have pesos to use when we go down there to buy things. And everyone who goes down there comes back with pesos in their pockets.”
Shrem claims Escondido is the first store in the entire borough to accept pesos.
The entrepreneur and his right-hand man Louis Salazar started listing the prices for all the items — including ceramics, woven place mats, carved animal figurines, among other Mexican wares — in both dollars and pesos. For example, a piece of black pottery from Oaxaca is listed as selling for $295 or 3,835 pesos.
There’s nothing illegal about accepting pesos, as long as the store still pays the sales tax based on the dollar amount.
“The law says you can’t refuse U.S. dollars, but it doesn’t say you can’t accept other kinds of money,” said Salazar.
Currently, pesos trade at about 13 to one against the dollar, meaning that 100 pesos are worth about $8.
Salazar said his employees don’t worry about checking the exchange rates every day and that, unless something drastic happens, the prices will stay as they are inside the tiny store, which opened this summer.
“It’s not like we’re the Gap and selling thousands of dollars in merchandise,” said Salazar, who admitted he feared critics would blast the business move as anti-American — but has observed no backlash so far.
Only a few people have paid in pesos, but Shrem and Salazar are hoping that more customers will use Mexican currency as the word spreads.
Bob Provazano is one customer who already taken advantage of the peso policy.
“I always bring 1,000 or 2,000 pesos back with me, so it’s great to be able to buy something with the money I have left over,” he said.