FAQ – All the Things You've Been Wondering About . . .
Who owns Viva Oaxaca Folk Art, and where is the business located?
Viva Oaxaca Folk Art is owned by Phil Saviano — importer, traveler, photographer. It is a sole proprietorship located and registered in the City of Boston, MA. USA. We do not have a retail store; just this website that we operate out of a private residence.
How can I contact the store owner/manager?
There are several ways to reach us, and we do enjoy hearing from our customers. We especially want to know if you have complaints or suggestions about our new website, or if you are having any difficulty in placing an order.
1) Contact by E-mail:
Our email address is [email protected] Follow this link.
2) Contact by Phone:
Call (617) 983-5075. You may call seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Eastern time. Ask for Phil.
3) Contact by postal mail. The street mailing address is:
Viva Oaxaca Folk Art
109 Ardale Street
Boston, MA 02131-1440
1) On the Web site: I accept payment three ways:
a) Credit Card – MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discovery cards all accepted.
c) Amazon Pay
2) Send check by mail: Process your order through the shopping cart, and be sure to select the "Send check by mail" for your payment option. I will hold your items for you until your check arrives. Send your check to the above Boston, MA address.
3) Order by Phone: Call us at 617-983-5075. Ask for Phil. You can provide your credit card information over the phone, or we send you a PayPal payment invoice.
Is it safe for me to pay by credit card on your website?
Yes. Our website is affiliated with very secure and highly respected financial institutions. Our credit card charges are certified and processed by Authorize.net. Our Merchant Account is with Bank of America. Our site’s web hosting service provider is Total Server Solutions. Their secure server software uses industry-standard Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology. SSL encodes your personal information, including credit card number, name, and address, as it travels over the Internet so that all transactions are secure. We are also accredited with the Better Business Bureau, which gives us a current A+ rating. If you still have reservations about using your card in our shopping cart, consider the other options that we provide – PayPal, send check in the mail, or place your order by phone, giving us your credit card information directly.
Does your online store charge a sales tax?
Since we are based in Massachusetts, we are required to 6.25% sales tax on all orders being shipped to a Massachusetts address. There are no tax fees for orders coming from other states or other countries. Foreign buyers, however, should research the customs fees to determine what additional fees they will have to pay upon receipt of their order.
Why do you want both my phone number and my email address when I place an order?
We use the email address to send you an immediate written confirmation of the order you have placed. We also use the email to send you an announcement when your order has been packed and shipped. The phone number is an important back-up way for us to contact you. Suppose there is a problem with your order . . . one of the items you requested is no longer available . . . or your zip code does not match your city address, for example. We will try to reach you first by email, but if you do not reply within a reasonable time, then we will try to contact you by phone, rather than hold up the order indefinitely.
My order is a gift. Can I add a personal message to the recipient?
Yes. You can add a gift message in the shopping cart after you enter your shipping and billing information. We will include the message in the box. We will not include the typical packing slip, however, since the packing slip would reveal the purchase price(s) of the item.
How quickly will I receive a confirmation of my order?
After you place your order, our shopping cart software will immediately send a confirmation to your email address. It will include your order number, list of items, order total, and shipping charges. This is the same information that was displayed for you in the shopping cart. Please review this information as soon as possible to ensure that all addresses, items and charges are correct. If you need to make any changes to your order, contact our office at [email protected] or phone us at 617-983-5075.
How quickly do you pack and ship your orders?
We aim to have things shipped within two days, but during the Christmas rush, we often ship within 24 hours, or even the same day. If your cart shipping option says “Priority Mail 2-day, that means delivery two days AFTER I deliver the package to the post office.
How do you calculate your shipping charges?
We use the U.S. Postal Service for all deliveries. Shipping charges are based on the weight of the package, and the distance it needs to travel from Boston, MA. We provide free shipping for all orders with a total value (after any discounts) of 475 or more. Please review our Shipping Info page for all the details.
Do you ship to countries outside of the United States?
Yes. We ship worldwide, including to APO (overseas U.S. Military Mail) addresses. We have many customers in other countries such as the UK, France, Canada and Australia. Foreign buyers should research the customs duties to determine what additional fees they will have to pay upon receipt of their order.
Can I cancel or change my order after it has been placed?
Yes, but try to do it within 12 hours. We need to hear from you before your order gets shipped. The best way to notify us is to phone us at 617-983-5075.
What is your policy on returns and refunds?
We have a 30-day, money-back guarantee on all our products. Please review our Return Policy page for all the details.
Where else can I buy your Mexican folk art products?
We do not have a retail store. In the Boston area, however, we have some items on consignment at the Dedham Women’s Exchange Gift Shop. They are located in Dedham, MA, close to the intersection of I-95 and Route 1.
We also often list a collection of items on Ebay. We sell there under the merchant name viva.oaxaca.art. We are proud to say that we have a 100% positive feedback score from over 1400 eBay customers.
Many of your items are one-of-a-kind. If I place something in the shopping cart, is it safe from someone else buying it while I further browse the site?
If a user adds something to the cart and then proceeds to browse the site, then his or her item is safe from being “taken” by someone else. The amount he added to his cart gets subtracted from the available inventory. However if the user leaves the site, and that includes closing all related windows or closing the browser, then that will end their session on the website. The inventory will be put back, leaving it free for someone else to buy.
The vast majority of our Oaxacan woodcarvings priced at $15 or more are signed. What this means is that the artist has written or printed his or her name (and often his address) on the bottom of the carving. This is almost always done with paint, not ink. If a woodcarving is not signed, I will note in the product listing that the carving is “not signed.”
When I am in Oaxaca buying directly from the carver, I always look for the signature. If it is not there, I ask the artist to add it. And then I take the time to wait around while the paint dries . . . Occasionally, some pieces slip through without a signature. This lack of signature can sometimes happen if I place an order from Boston, and the artist ships the carvings up to me. They don’t always remember to sign every piece. It may have something to do with the heat down there . . . : -)
It is a similar situation with the pottery candelabras and Day of the Dead figures. The vast majority of them are signed, though sometimes it may be simply the artists’ initials.
Tin figures are never signed, and the wooden “cajitas de muertos” (skeleton figure shadowboxes) are never signed.
Can the tin figures be used for both indoor and outdoor display?
The work of Oaxaca’s tinsmiths is gleaming, colorful, lightweight and durable. The lacquer paints have been known to last for many, many years without chipping or fading. The one thing you do have to worry about is exposure to moisture. The material the artists are working with is a thin sheet of steel that is plated on both sides with silvery-white tin metal. Tin itself is very rust-resistant, but it is the edges of the ornaments, where the sheet has been cut and the inner core of steel is exposed, that can be problematic. Steel rusts very easily if it gets wet. Therefore, we advise not using the tin figures outside, unless you live in a dry climate, or you are putting together a display that is temporary and protected from direct contact with rain. Of course, there are good reasons to make exceptions. We have a customer who uses our tin heart ornaments to make beautiful Valentine door wreaths. And last year we sold a large collection of tin ornaments to a California production company that was building a giant Christmas tree that would be featured on a float in the Disneyland holiday parade.
How durable are your Mexican pottery candelabras?
The pottery is very durable, as long as you don’t drop it. The bright, hand-painted colors are very fade-resistant, and protected with a final coating of varnish which gives them added intensity and shine. The thing to note is that these pieces are not high-temperature-fired stoneware. They are fired in backyard ovens made of bricks and fueled by burning wood. Thus, you have to take care that the candles you use are small enough to fit properly into the ceramic base. If you try to force into place a candle that is too big, you will likely split the socket.
How long does your Oaxacan chocolate stay fresh?
The chocolate stays fresh for a surprisingly long time. Every package has an expiration date on it. The chocolate bars are wrapped in foil inside the carton. Store the chocolate in a room that is less than 75 degrees F. Keep them out of direct sunlight. You can extend the freshness by wrapping the chocolate in two plastic bags, one inside the other, and keeping it in the refrigerator. You can freeze it, too, for as long as six months. This Oaxacan chocolate is to be melted in milk or water and consumed as a hot drink. But we have customers who eat it like a chocolate candy bar. Either way, it doesn’t seem to last long enough for people to worry about the expiration date.