Within a few minutes of speaking with Christian Romero, Owner and Founder of Wynwood Buggies, it’s abundantly clear the level of passion he has for Wynwood and the street art community. Born and raised in Argentina, Romero, a computer programmer by trade, moved to Miami in 2008 in search of new opportunities. The life of an immigrant was more difficult than he expected, but he was determined to make it work. After a year of working in the food delivery business, he made a connection that introduced him to Wynwood – an experience that changed his life forever.
“There used to be an indoor soccer stadium here,” he said. “I’ve always been a big fan of soccer. Anyway, I met the owner and he invited me to check out the first Art Walk. I immediately fell in love with the art and the whole vibe of the community. Little by little I got involved and started to help promote the area. Along the way, I started to think about a better way to move people throughout Wynwood – as a way to get them from point to point and to show off the neighborhood. That’s how I came up with the idea for Wynwood Buggies.”
From the time Romero came up with the idea until he officially launched the business, he spent two years working with the city on permits, licensing, insurance and other behind-the-scenes activities. He continued to work his day job while building out his business on the side. By the end of 2015, the business was fully operational.
Romero initially did all the tours himself. He started with one 4-seat golf cart, which left room for three guests. Over time, he added new carts and additional revenue streams.
“My idea was always more about promoting the arts and less about making money,” he said. “However, at some point, I realized that if I wanted to make a living doing this, I had to make more money. That’s when I decided to offer companies the ability to advertise on the carts. Our first advertiser was Miami New Times, followed by III Points – a music and arts festival.”
Several years after the first tours started, Romero was able to bring to fruition an idea he had when he first launched the business.
“I originally wanted the artists of Wynwood to do the tours,” he said. “However, my insurance only covered me as a driver. It wasn’t until 2018 when I was able to get the insurance to allow the artists to also do the tours. Since then, we’ve experienced steady growth.”
The one hour tour, which takes locals and tourists around a one square mile of Wynwood, is personalized depending on the customer’s interests. According to Romero, some people simply want pictures in front of the murals, while others prefer to learn about the artist and the history behind the artwork. Either way, the tour offers an insightful and unique street art experience, allowing customers to explore the largest collection of graffiti and street art murals from both national and international talent. The tour guides also provide great tips on the best galleries, events, restaurants, shops, bars, and breweries in Wynwood.
Romero shared what he enjoys most about owning and operating Wynwood Buggies and some of the ways he’s looking to expand his operation while also increasing the exposure of local artists.
“Being around art and seeing how people enjoy it is so rewarding,” he said. “It’s amazing to see their reactions. We also get plenty of locals that weren’t aware of all the art we have here. It’s the only place like it in the world and I love sharing it with people.”
Romero continued, “We’re in the process of setting up in office in Wynwood where we can offer merchandise in collaboration with local artists. Long term, I want to open galleries and similar tours in other art districts throughout Florida. Once we come out of this pandemic, that will be my goal. Maybe some investors will believe in my idea and see me as the guy that ‘represents the artists’.”
What advice does Romero have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “It’s cliché, but never give up,” he said. “If you believe it, and you see the people responding the right way, then that’s the right path. Also, always be open to learning and do it for the passion and love. If you love what you do, the business success will follow. Lastly, learn from others around you.”