shut down at the end of March last year, sales dropped by 90 percent, he said. Five workers had to leave Mexico City after being furloughed.

To survive, Mr. Mena began improvising. Along with the coronavirus piñata, his shop began selling effigies of Susana Distancia, Mexico’s social-distancing superhero, as well as of Hugo López-Gatell, the country’s coronavirus czar who has been much maligned for vastly underestimating the pandemic’s toll on Mexico.

People “would beat him but because he wasn’t telling the truth,” Mr. Mena said of the López-Gatell piñata.

To boost sales, Mr. Ramírez, the shop owner in Reynosa, also decided to diversify his store’s offerings. He began learning how to bake cakes, while his sister learned how to make arrangements with balloons.

“If we don’t have work in one thing, well, let’s help by making something else,” he said.

But despite the ingenuity of these craftsmen, sales have risen little, and the Mexican government has given businesses next to nothing in terms of stimulus to get by.

Sitting between a Wonder Woman piñata and a portrait of the Virgin Mary, Mr. Mena wiped away tears as he recalled how things got so desperate last summer that his clients and neighbors began adding food parcels to their payments for piñatas to help him, his family and other piñata makers who supply his business get by.

“People already knew us, thank God, good people,” he said. “They helped us.”

The family had hoped sales would pick up around Christmas, usually the busiest season, but in mid-December, the capital entered another lockdown and the store was forced to close. Still, far from being bitter at the authorities, Mr. Mena said he understood the need to “sacrifice our earnings for the good of the people.”

The enforced slowdown brought on by the pandemic has also given him more time to appreciate the craft of creating piñatas. “We’re going to make them with more patience,” he said. “Going back to creating and teaching and feeling that love for what you do.”

In Reynosa, Mr. Ramirez, who recently became a father for the first time, is also experimenting with new types of piñatas, the inspiration for which can often be personal as well as from popular culture.

“I’m a dad, and I have a daughter, so now I have to make piñatas that are more cute,” he said.

While the present situation remains grim, Mr. Mena is feeling more optimistic about the future. With vaccines rolling out, although slowly, he believes his business, and the centuries-old industry he is so proud of, will finally start to recover.

“Like a phoenix from the ashes,” he said, “the piñata trade is starting to pull through.”

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