The History of Turquoise Village
Turquoise Village was founded on the basis of sharing love and respect.
It exists because of this. It's not just a tagline, it's in our history.
Greg Hofmann left Palos Verdes, California to attend Arizona State University. It was while waiting in line for class sign-ups that he met Richard Taubman, another student from Queens, New York. As Richard recalls it, his attention was drawn to Greg and two beautiful women he was with. One of these women, Roxie, would end up marrying Greg...let's not jump too far ahead, though. From that ASU meeting, Greg and Richard became best friends. Then roommates. This relationship forged the path for the partnership that would become into Turquoise Village.
Greg's love for American Indian jewelry began when he moved to Arizona from the beaches of California. A few short years into college, Greg began trading Santo Domingo jewelry, which was becoming a very popular style at the time. He made runs between Arizona and New Mexico buying and selling his wares. He was so successful at it, he dropped out of college to do it full time. He asked Richard for help.
Soon after, the two began making their own turquoise chokers and sourcing their turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty and Kingman mines. They developed good relationships with these mines and soon found themselves practically swimming in Turquoise. They had so much raw turquoise, they decided to start selling it.
Over the course of their venture, Richard and Greg had become familiar with the esteemed jewelry makers of the Zuni Pueblo. Due to its remote location, they decided the Pueblo was the perfect place to sell their turquoise. They began by visiting artists door-to-door, providing a valuable service to the tribe as a whole. The tribe was so ecstatic about Greg and Richard servicing the community, the tribe offered them a building right in the middle of the Pueblo for them to run their business.
It was 1978 and Turquoise Village was born.
At first, the store was given license for two purposes: to sell Turquoise to the local artists, and to trade Zuni jewelry. The business faced rapid expansion to meet the rising demands of the artists and the growing popularity of Zuni jewelry and art. Turquoise Village began providing silver, coral and shell for the jewelry makers, and a wide variety of stones to inspire the imaginations of fetish carvers.
Greg and Richard successfully ran their business together until 1992, when Richard decided to entrust his half of the business to Greg, and left Zuni to live with his wife in California. Greg and Richard remained close friends.
From 1992 to 2014, Greg continued to run the business with the help of an amazing cast of characters. The girls who work at Turquoise Village, all Zuni tribe members, have been the shining stars behind the scenes and on the front lines. Their skills and personalities combined have made Turquoise Village what it is today.
2014 - present
Greg's passing in 2014 came as a shock to everyone around him. After 36 years of business, Turquoise Village was a fixture of the community. It was an institution in the Zuni Pueblo that many artists depended on for survival.
Knowing this, Greg's surviving family kept the doors to Turquoise Village open. Greg's son, Brandon, knew how important the store was to the community, and, although he had his own career in New York City, he decided the commit his available time to ensuring Turquoise Village remained open.
Two years ago, Brandon enlisted the help an old college friend, Cory Shamis, to help build upon the legacy his father had left behind. Today, Brandon and Cory work closely together to ensure the continued success of Turquoise Village through serving the humble needs of the Zuni community, and highlighting our celebrated Zuni artists.
Turquoise Village functions as a liaison between admirers of handmade Native American jewelry and crafts and the artists themselves. We are located directly on the Zuni reservation and thus have direct access to all the Zuni artists located within the Pueblo. We purchase all of our jewelry and craftworks directly from the artists who make them within their own homes, and we thus provide a reliable outlet for these artists to sell their art and jewelry, making it possible for them to sustain themselves and their families with their traditional craft. In addition to purchasing, we also maintain a supply division which provides artists with the materials and tools they need to produce their art.
As we look towards the future, we sought out Richard Taubman's experience with the Village's past. He imparted this advice:
"The most important thing you need to know about running Turquoise Village is to love and respect the people of Zuni. They are warm, wonderful people, and if you treat them with the kindness that Greg and I did, you will be successful."
Wise words that we intend to live by.