Thursday, May 17, 2007

Is It a Good Investment?

As I sat in Barry’s office editing his latest story on a recent weekday morning, a middle aged couple entered the store. They had apparently been in the Twin Rocks trading post earlier in the week, because they greeted Barry by name, and, pointing to a beautiful and expensive Ganado weaving, asked,“Is buying this type of art a good investment?”

Grange and Dennis Ross
Grange Simpson and Navajo/Hopi Artist Dennis Ross

The couple went on to explain that during their travels they had seen a large Teec Nos Pos rug from the 1930s, which was priced at $25,000.00. They said their investment portfolio needed a little diversification and felt the weaving might be just the ticket. They wanted Barry’s opinion.

Over the years Barry and I have tended store at Twin Rocks, we have been asked similar questions many times. As a result, we have developed the, “If you love it, take it home; if you don’t, leave it alone” philosophy of investing in Southwest art. The expanded version goes something like this: If you buy the rug, basket or other work of art, put it in your house and every day tell yourself, “I really enjoy having that in my home, it makes me feel good,” you have made a good investment. If you intend to put the piece under your bed or in the closet in hopes it will increase in value, you should probably just call your stockbroker.

In our opinion, buying art is a matter of the heart; not the head. Need, as we frequently remind our customers, is a four letter word. After food and shelter comes art, that all important concept that expands your mind, not your belly.

Listening to Barry explain this theory to the visiting couple made me think of the investment he and I have made in the local art and artists, and in this small community on the banks of the San Juan. Not just financially, but, more importantly, emotionally. There certainly have been times when we both felt our portfolios needed to be reshuffled, but year after year we recommit to the project.

Recently I returned from meeting Jana and the kids in Orlando, Florida, where we had the all-important Disney World experience. While I enjoyed seeing the kids thrill at the magic of Disney, I began to consider how I have invested the last 17 years of my life. Because of my desire to help the kids make good decisions regarding what they do with the rest of their lives, Dacia, Kira and Grange quite often make me think in those terms.

Jana, Barry and I frequently discuss how much we enjoy the people of this area, how much we appreciate working together and how we wish we could better share with others the adventures we have at the Twin Rocks trading post. For us, the investment of blood, sweat and tears has paid off handsomely. We are generously enriched by the cultures we experience on a daily basis, and believe we are fortunate to find ourselves in this place, at this time, doing this work.

Oddly enough, in spite of our love for these people and this land, we are leading our children away from the career and lifestyle we have chosen. Once they are properly educated, it is unlikely our children will find their way back to this location or this enterprise. In one way it seems a pity, in another, it seems clear they must experience and conquer the world on their own terms.

Kira and John Yazzie
Kira Simpson & Navajo Jeweler
John Yazzie @ Twin Rocks Trading Post

During my trip to Orlando, we took a day to visit Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. As I walked beneath a massive Saturn V rocket, the type that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon, I was overwhelmed with the size and complexity of the vehicle. I vividly remembered the television broadcasts that captivated me during that period, and the pride I felt seeing our country dreaming and achieving such monumental goals.

When we finally sat down to lunch, I said to Kira and Grange, “Isn’t this amazing? Did you see how large that rocket is? Did you see the Lunar Rover? Did you touch the moon rock?” They shrugged their shoulders and said, “Well, this place is okay, but it isn’t as nice as the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We have already seen a moon rock, but we’ll go look if you want.”

At ten and seven years of age respectively, Kira and Grange have already explored frontiers I only dreamed of at their age. It will be fascinating to see how they choose to invest their lives.

Is it a good investment? Only if it fills your heart and makes you smile.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2007 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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