How does a graphic designer from a top advertising agency in Washington D.C. and his wife make their way to New Mexico, where they now own and operate Dust, a unique retail store on Main Street in Truth or Consequences? Let’s find out as we explore the path of these talented entrepreneurs, Moshe Koenick and Susan Morrongiello-Koenick, and learn what inspires them!

From the Big City to the Big Skies of New Mexico

Agency Work

Dust Retail New Mexico

Born in Washington DC just a few blocks from the capital, Moshe (Mo) Koenick studied graphic design, landing a job at one of the top advertising agencies in the Washington D.C. metro area, with a client base that included Ikea and USO (United Service Organizations). His wife, Susan, worked as an art therapist. The jobs were great and the D.C. location carried some prestige, but Mo and Susan tired of big city crime, the trauma of 9/11, and the hectic pace, longing for a more relaxed lifestyle.

Looking for a New Home

Dust Retail New Mexico

Mo and Susan were interested in moving to either the East Coast or the Southwest, narrowing down the latter to New Mexico after Susan attended a conference in New Mexico and liked what she saw. As they searched online, a city name, Truth or Consequences, caught their attention. Additional searches revealed the expansive beauty of the high-desert area, big skies, and low home prices, and the decision was made.

Making the Move

Dust Retail New Mexico

Mo and Susan took a trip to explore Truth or Consequences, finding a store that would not only serve well for the shop they wanted to open but would also provide living quarters. The owner promised to hold it for them for a year, so roughly a year later, in 2004, Mo and Susan said their goodbyes and moved to Truth or Consequences, keeping their Washington D.C. home as a safety net for the first couple years “just in case.” The fact that nearly twenty years have now passed makes it clear that they are happy with their move!

Living in Truth or Consequences

Mo and Susan’s move to Truth or Consequences corresponded with some new live/work business regulations in downtown Truth or Consequences and fortunately, they were grandfathered in, making it possible to fulfill their dream of a live/work building in city’s downtown with liveable quarters on the walkout basement level. As Mo says, “It’s good and bad.  I can roll out of bed, take a shower, and then commute to work by walking upstairs!  But I’m never away from work!”

 Building Businesses in Truth or Consequences

Vintage Clothing and Framing

Dust Retail New Mexico

The street level space in the building Mo and Susan purchased became home to Susan’s business – a vintage clothing store, Dust and Glitter, where Susan could also sell her beautiful, handmade jewelry. Meanwhile, Mo worked as a cook and waiter at the White Coyote vegetarian restaurant (now an antique store) while feeding his photographer/graphic designer side by visiting a frame shop/art supply store a block away.  Eventually, the owners convinced Mo to train for the framing business, which eventually led him to purchase the business. After running it for four years, Mo sold it to friends who are still running it today under the name Hot Springs Frame and Art Supply.

Gallery and Dust

Dust Retail New Mexico

When the building next door to theirs came on the market, Mo and Susan purchased the building so that Mo could open an art and photography gallery under the banner M Gallery. It was perfect for Mo as it allowed him to once again pursue his graphic arts career in combination with running the gallery.

After several years, Susan was ready to say goodbye to the vintage clothing business as the market was flooded, while also in decline. After discussing options, the couple decided to pool their talents and bring Susan’s jewelry and Mo’s photography together into the Dust and Glitter location, dropping “and Glitter” from the name and settling on simply “Dust”. The year was 2013 

Dust

All Things New Mexico

Dust Retail New Mexico

Shopping at Dust is synonymous with shopping for unique items handmade in New Mexico. Mo’s dramatic photography graces the walls and Susan’s displays of her “Me Jane Jewelry” features natural stone, such as turquoise, carnelian, and quartz, with much of it gold or titanium plated or electroplated. Susan also sells her handmade pottery at the store. A metal artist from nearby Array supplies whimsically fun metal sculptures that are sure to bring a smile to your face. Travis Bruce Black, an Albuquerque artist, provides dramatic watercolors of roadrunners and other New Mexico birds in the form of original paintings, prints and greeting cards. Santa Fe artist, Stacy Brown, is the store’s source for Alpaca and wool knitted items, including scarves, hats and adorable stuffed animals. And a local illustrator with a great sense of humor creates delightful mugs and t-shirts for Dust.

A Great Place to Shop

Dust Retail New Mexico

Dust is one of those stores that requires you to take your time, walk around, and look up and down as you’ll discover something wonderfully unique at every turn on the walls and shelves, in the display cases, and on the floor, which is where you’ll find many of the “heavy metal” sculptures. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for one-of-a-kind gifts, Dust is a must-visit destination.

sNever a Dull Moment

Dust Retail New Mexico

Along with running Dust, Mo never lets dust collect under his feet!  He worked evenings as a waiter and night manager for a local restaurant and marketed Truth or Consequences’ Saturday Art Hop for years, along with serving as graphic designer for many other events and businesses. As a movie fanatic, Mo went to every movie that came to the theater across the street from Dust and now runs the theater, which includes booking the movies, managing the advertising, and booking events, among other things.

Conclusion    

Susan and Mo took a risk, left secure jobs in Washington D.C., and moved to a small city in New Mexico, giving up everything they knew for a more peaceful and fulfilling life in a beautiful location, Truth or Consequences.  Today, with a couple of successful business ventures behind them, the couple runs Dust, a retail store featuring handmade New Mexico items ranging from mugs and t-shirts to jewelry, pottery, photography, and paintings. An ideal destination for things for your home or one-of-a-kind gifts, Dust is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 5:00pm and Sundays, 10:00am to noon.


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