Debbie Garcia and Alicia Garza met at a neighborhood block sale on Nyssa Avenue in McAllen over 15 years ago. It was a chance encounter neither guessed would lead to a sisterly friendship and a business partnership.
That is exactly what happened.
The two women already had a few things in common when they met. Both were teachers in the McAllen school district. Garcia was an English teacher at DeLeon Middle School and then at McAllen High School. Garza taught fourth grade at Seguin Elementary and was later a math teacher at Morris Middle School.
“My passion has always been math,” Garza said, a trait that reminded Garcia of her husband.
“She is just like my husband,” Garcia said. “It’s almost like she is him.”
Garcia is the colorful, creative type while Garza is the business-minded, analytical type.
The two soon discovered they also shared a passion for antiques. They began out-of-town excursions in search of the newest great find.
“During any break in the school year, we went antiquing to San Antonio, Dallas and the Hill Country,’’ Garza said.
Garcia, in true English-teacher fashion, describes how they would take the road less traveled while on their antique hunts. They would often find their greatest treasures on those off-the-main-road jaunts. Each trip seemed to result in the need for yet another storage unit.
Crafting A Dream & Vision
Before they knew it, Garcia and Garza’s finds filled four storage units. When Garza decided to retire in 2017 after 23 years of teaching, she also decided enough was enough. She told Garcia, “We either open a shop or we sell everything.”
The funny thing is, they actually did both.
On Black Friday 2017, Garcia and Garza opened Treasures From The Attic & Co. on North 11th Street in McAllen. They chose the location because of surrounding shops with the same feel, like New & Again Antiques Mall and A Step in Time Antiques.
They splashed the shop with color and designed a comfortable seating area in the front of the store if customers just wanted to visit. Many are repeat customers who return to discover the pair’s newest merchandise and to pick up conversations where they left off. This also allowed the two retired teachers to get back to what they have missed most about teaching.
“Our favorite part of teaching was our interaction with the kids,” Garcia said. “In the sitting area, we love the interaction and listening to our customers reminisce about things they see in the shop.”
While the bulk of their merchandise is from Garcia and Garza’s shopping trips, they also have a select group of vendors who sell at Treasures From The Attic & Co., a group that has become like family.
“We wanted to open up our shop to the small entrepreneur, the crafter or that collector who cannot open a business or don’t have the time to run a shop,” Garza said.
Garcia retired in May of 2019 after 25 years of teaching. It’s allowing her to devote more time to the shop and to her talents.
“I love antiques. I love them just the way they are, but I love to take things that need a little work and freshen them up with paint,” Garcia said.
She effortlessly incorporates her talent for blending color, what she calls “palette play.” Although she paints lamps, chandeliers, candlesticks, crosses and countless other items, she definitely has a favorite.
“I love doing children’s furniture,” Garcia said, “and making it fun for kids.”
Creating Community & Family
Treasures From The Attic & Co. takes customers down memory lane, serving as a trip to grandma’s house, a history lesson and a memory reviver wrapped into one. Customers will find vintage knick-knacks, china, silver and costume jewelry. More and more, people are going in to the shop to be among the first to see the larger merchandise.
“We are getting to be known as the shop with the most furniture,” Garza said.
This has created the need to expand. Their original one-suite shop has now morphed into a three-suite shop. The wall into the third suite was just brought down in May for the expansion.
“Alicia shops a lot, so we added on,” Garcia quipped.
In “The Back Room,” they carry “project pieces” for those who like to add their own touch through varnish, paint and furniture decals. Their next goal is to see the City of McAllen help them create an actual antique-shopping community that will become a destination spot similar to Gruene and Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country.
“The Vintage Shops of McAllen,” Garza said, the vision already solidified in her mind.
This growing antique community at 11th and Upas in McAllen already hosts an artisan vintage market the first Saturday of every month.
The personalities and talents of the two retired teachers complement each other. Their mutual love for antiques and all things vintage, in combination with their ability to make complete strangers feel like lifelong friends, is creating a charming community in McAllen.