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City’s Hispanic numbers are growing

By Erika Pedroza | Published Thursday, March 31, 2011

MAS MEANS MORE - Mas Meat and Produce Market co-owner Don Tucker uses his experience opening 25 Hispanic-geared grocery stores, Carnival, to help run his business in Bridgeport. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In tallying the largest growth in the county from 4,309 in 2000 to 5,976 in 2010, the city of Bridgeport saw particular increases in the Hispanic population.

The number more than doubled from 1,215 in 2000 to 2,524 in 2010.

Businesses such as Mas Meat and Produce Market, Letty’s Uno Store, Maria’s Gift and Flower Shoppe and That Sweet Something have taken advantage of the opportunity.

Census 2010 BugAlthough each of the mentioned businesses claim not to cater solely to one demographic, there are features within each one that are especially popular among Hispanic clientele.

For example, money wiring and calling cards are popular products at both Letty’s Uno Store and Maria’s Gift and Flower Shoppe.

And certain products at Mas Meat and Produce Market – such as patas de puerco, tablitas, chorizo and menudo – are favored by the Hispanic population.

“(Our customers) are about 50 (Hispanic)/50 (non-Hispanic),” Mas Meat and Produce Market co-owner Don Tucker said. “You have to cater to all clientele. You have to have everybody involved.”

While working for Minyard Food Stores in the Metroplex, Tucker and business partner Doug White were responsible for researching and establishing 25 Carnival grocery stores geared toward the Hispanic community.

The two used their knowledge and experience from that to bring a specialized number of products not carried at other local stores to Bridgeport.

“You know what you know, and you come in and open up with what you know,” Tucker said. “You bring in the products you’ve found to be popular in your experiences. And in this area, not many grocery stores carry what we do.”

LOTS TO OFFER - Merchandise ranging from Mexican candy to birthday party invitations line the shelves of Leticia Moncada's Letty's Uno Store in Bridgeport. Although she claims people of all ethnicities appreciate the various products, Hispanic customers are predominant. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

At Letty’s Uno Store, quincea era albums and dolls, party banners and table cloths, loteria game sets, Mexican candy and T-shirts with the logos of popular Spanish novelas line the walls.

Although the merchandise Leticia Moncada carries at her store is predominately Hispanic-based, she said people of all races appreciate it.

“People of all ethnicities have parties,” Moncada said. “And although it is Mexican candy or Mexican soap, all people appreciate it. As a business owner, you can’t focus on one type of people.

“Of course, Hispanic business is more predominant here, but that’s because Hispanic people look for people who speak Spanish and who can help them resolve issues to do business with.”

Carrying on this notion, Tucker requires his employees speak English and Spanish to shatter any language barriers that may inhibit business.

“We get a lot of people who don’t speak English,” he said. “So it’s important that we help those customers. In terms of meat, I can understand what they may ask. But I’m not fluent.”

Since the opening of his store two years ago, Tucker has seen substantial growth, despite the economy.

The business has grown from a a produce stand and meat freezer to additional ice boxes with cheeses and homemade pico, shelves of canned goods, firewood and ceramic pots and iron skillets, popular among Hispanic households.

At Letty’s Uno Store, business has fluctuated with the economy, but the store remains open.

Both business owners credit the contribution of the Hispanic population boom to some extent.

“Some days are busier than others,” Moncada said. “But I’Mastill in business. And yes, the growth of the Hispanic population has contributed to that.”

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