One six-foot shelf grew into an entire business of its own when Terry Rosales and Erica Saenz saw a market for plushie pals.
Rosales and Saenz, the owners of T & E Treasures (409 N. Bryan Rd. Suite 103 in Mission) have collected Snoopy, Garfield and Disney plush figures for years. The pair got into the business of selling treasures like the ones they cherished by setting up on a small shelf in Minnie’s Hidden Treasures, a thrift shop located in the suite next to theirs.
“We’re collector’s ourselves at home,” Saenz said. “We started selling plushies and we just did so good that we entered our own space. Minnie’s Hidden Treasures has spaces for rent, so we rented a space, and it was still too small for us so we ended up renting the suite.”
When entering T & E Treasures, one is immediately met with the power of the plush as soft, welcoming toys – new and gently-owned rare collectibles – line every wall. The endearing classic characters and exotic animals can be given as gifts, or used for photo shoots and collector’s displays.
“We have a couple of connections around the world, so they ship boxes of plushies to us,” Saenz said. “We have a variety of plushies, and we’re very picky about what enters our store. We don’t have any knock-offs, we don’t have any toy factory toys – it’s all from toy collectors and modern plushies.”
Saenz said new mothers often set up photo shoots for their babies, and head to the toy store to find just the right plush for their theme.
“We have a good handful of customers locally that take monthly photoshoots of their baby,” Saenz said. “It’s amazing. They’ll send us pictures of the shoots or the birthday parties, and their children opening the gifts. It’s an amazing feeling to know we were part of that child or elderly person feeling ecstatic.”
The owners receive their plushies from different countries every week. In mid-February, just before the pandemic, T & E Treasures began shipping worldwide, meeting the needs of a collector’s market they didn’t expect to be so vast.
“I really enjoy meeting people around the world,” Saenz said. “I get to speak to people from everywhere, and it’s very interesting what they collect.”
T & E Treasures most often ships their plushies overseas, to buyers in the United Kingdom and Italy.
“They show me pictures of their collections,” Saenz said. “It’s very exciting.”
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States last year, the store had to close for about a month. Pushing forward is the focus of 2021, according to Saenz.
“Since COVID started, our online sales tripled,” Saenz said. “Hopefully everything gets back to normal soon, because we do want to open a second location in McAllen. We’re hoping, if everything looks better, we’re going to do that. We’re excited – it was a hobby that turned into a collection that turned into a business.”