Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Who We Are 2013

March 8, 2012

WHO WE ARE: Hispanic storefronts dot the community

GOSHEN — As the Hispanic population in Goshen has grown over the years, an increasing amount of Hispanic-owned store fronts now dot the business landscape in the city.

Just over 19 percent of Goshen’s population identifies itself as Hispanic or Latino, according to the most recent Census data.

And Hispanics in Goshen have a number of businesses geared toward their culture, from Mexican restaurants, to bakeries, to specialized grocery stores, to financial services firms.  

One local business geared toward a Hispanic clientele is Gutierrez Bakery on Main Street in downtown Goshen.

The bakery is owned by Isabel Gutierrez and her husband German. They moved to the Goshen area 13 years ago from southern California.

“We wanted a better place to raise our kids,” Isabel Gutierrez said.

Those kids — Edel, 22, and Edgar, 26 — are grown. But northern Indiana is home for the Gutierrez family now.

Their bakery, with its companion grocery store, keeps in stock everything from the dozens of varieties of “pan dulce,” or sweet bread, to Hispanic specialty food items and even special votive candles.

For the Gutierrezes, it’s all about listening to the customer and giving them what they want. That attitude has helped them weather several economic downturns, including the most recent recession.

“We’ve always done pretty well,” Isabel Gutierrez said as she rang up a customer’s purchases that included a bag of sweet bread along with some groceries.

The Gutierrezes have built their business through word of mouth and by advertising in several local Spanish-language media outlets.

“The community has been supportive,” Isabel Gutierrez said. “You give people good products at a good price, and you build relationships with them.”

That’s also the case farther down on Main Street at Ital de Oro, a jewelry shop that also features clothing and shoes.

Owner Cuauhtemoc Perez has been in business for 11 years in Goshen, six of those years downtown after beginning with a smaller store near the water tower.

Perez also has found the secret to business success — if you want to cater to a niche clientele, it pays to diversify.

“We have clothes for baptisms, rings, clothes, shoes, a wide variety,” Perez said.

Keeping your customers, Perez added, also means keeping up with the latest styles.

And Perez also said the key to weathering tough economic times is staying in tune with your customers’ needs.

“We had our sales drop off some,” Perez said of the most recent downturn. “But if you take good care of your customers, they will stick with you.”

Perez’s business also offers a vital service for many local Hispanics: Financial services, specifically a service that allows customers to wire money back home to family members in Mexico.

Offering that service, Perez said, helps the other side of the business.

“They come in to wire money,” Perez said, “and maybe they’ll buy something while they are here.”

Goshen officials, meanwhile, are also cognizant of the local Hispanic community and its buying power locally.

With that in mind, the Goshen Chamber of Commerce is reviving its Hispanic business outreach program.

According to Nick Kieffer, vice president of business development, a number of local Hispanic-owned businesses are Chamber members.

But there is always room for more, Kieffer added.

Chamber President David Daugherty said it’s a major objective of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce to engage with the Hispanic business community locally.

An effort in recent years signed up at least 15 Hispanic businesses, and Daugherty said he’d like to see an effort like that put forth again.

“The feeling among our board of directors,” Daugherty explained, “is that we really want to have the Hispanic businesses understand that we want them to be a part of everything the Goshen business community has to offer.” z

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