PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and a new report finds Hispanic-Latino buying power is growing, with much of it concentrated in eight states, including New York and New Jersey.
In fact, one local business that sells items unique to Mexican culture is on the verge of a major expansion.READ MORE: New Jersey Under State Of Emergency As Nor'easter Threatens Flood Prone Areas
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Thursday, the store features colorful creations made with love — from handmade tortilla keepers, original stone molcajete used for salsa, to folklore gnomes.
Literally anything you’ve ever thought of — or not thought of — to be associated with life in Mexico can be found inside La Providencia on 1st Street in Passaic.
“Coming to La Providencia is an experience, because what we do is we import tradition and we sell culture. We’ve been doing it for 16 years,” co-founder Lilia Rois told Rozner.
Rios said 80% of what you see inside the store is made in Mexico.
“Just take a look around. The birds, everything’s beautiful,” one customer said.
Rois’ husband was studying international business and saw there was a niche for Mexicans living abroad.
“They were in need of those products, more like a nostalgia product. So he found a niche, and then import it from Mexico, and selling to supermarkets and restaurants,” she said.
“It’s fantastic to see a lot of stuff, products we never find in another place,” said customer Leonardo Sanchez.
Products like Mexican candies and religious items, like hand painted statues of the Lady of Guadalupe — a powerful symbol in Mexican faith.READ MORE: Storm Watch: Timeline Of Rare October Nor'easter Soaking Tri-State Area
“The Lady of Guadalupe is basically the mother of all the Mexicans in the Catholic religion, and we celebrate her on December 12. So it’s a big celebration,” Rios said.
In the basement, estrella, or “star,” pinatas, traditionally featuring seven cones in a star formation, are made from scratch.
The store also sells traditional palitos, or sticks used to destroy a pinata, which can be filled with candy, fruit or nuts.
Fun and games aside, a new study from the Bank of America finds the total economic input of Latinos in the U.S. is upwards of $2.6 trillion — one of the fastest growing in the world. Eight states, including New Jersey and New York, collectively have three-quarters of the U.S. Latino population.
“It’s an untapped market for many corporations,” said Carlos Medina, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “In the last 12 months, especially in a pandemic world, we’ve seen our entrepreneurship training programs probably double in the amount of applications. I think we had 300 applications for 50 seats… We also help our members try to break into new markets.”
“There are more people interested in Mexican items than before,” Rios said. “In two years, we’re going to open five stores.”
The company has even expanded to produce a cooking like, with cookware and Mexican seasonings.
“Then we have refried beans, we have the whole beans, pinto beans,” said Rios.
Chef Flavio Solorzano, from Somos Tu Pero in nearby Paterson, came in looking for artisan bowls similar to ones used in Peru for a photoshoot.MORE NEWS: Storm Watch: Officials Hoping To Avoid Repeat Of Ida With Preparations For Nor'easter
Rios said people come in just to tour the vibrant store. She said the colors represent the happiness of people living in Mexico, and she takes pride in sharing that with others.