A store in Brooklyn has decided to accept Mexican pesos, bringing back a practice that however rare dates back four centuries, El Diario La Prensa reported. The story was translated from Spanish.
If you came back to New York from your last trip to Mexico with pesos in your wallet, you can now spend them at a store in Brooklyn instead of going to the bank to exchange them.
The store in question is called Escondido, which sells Mexican crafts, jewelry, and other products. The store is practically located under the Brooklyn Bridge at 145 Front St., and not long ago the owner started allowing customers to pay with Mexican currency as well as American dollars.
“It’s a way of balancing out the situation between the two countries,” explained Luis Salazar, a business partner. “When an American walks into a store in Cancún and sees something he likes, the first thing he asks is if he can pay for it with dollars, and in general the owners are going to be okay with that. Why can’t we do the same here?”
Before deciding to accept Mexican pesos, Salazar and the owner of Escondido, American Maurice Shrem, did research to find out whether the practice was legal, and they discovered that the use of Mexican pesos in the U.S. goes way back.
Between 1785 and 1857, the peso was legal tender in the United States since the country had recently become independent, and Mexican currency was more reliable than the nation’s own dollar.
“The Mexican peso was used on a regular basis in the U.S. for almost 75 years,” said Shrem. “We’ve simply chosen to go back to using it.”
While Escondido continues to accept American dollars (in fact, customers can pay with a combination of dollars and pesos), there isn’t a single law in the country that prohibits a business from accepting foreign currency.
Starting October 1, prices on all items at Escondido will be marked in both dollars and pesos, and will vary according to the exchange rate.
“We started accepting pesos this past summer, and we’re having a lot of success because it’s very practical for our customers, who save money,” said Salazar. “We don’t charge a fee like the banks do when customers exchange pesos for dollars.”
Despite the fact that the majority of Escondido’s customers are Americans looking for Mexican products and to spend the pesos they accumulated during vacations, the initiative delighted the city’s Mexican community.
“I think it’s great that given the prevalence of our language there’s also respect for our currency,” said Emiliano Rodríguez, who works at a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. “If my boss allowed it, I would do the same.”