MARINETTE, Wis. (WFRV) — When you think of Wisconsin, you don’t immediately think of authentic Mexican food. This is exactly why one family wanted to help bring a piece of home here.
“We used to live in Texas, so when we heard about this opening, I was super, super excited,” said Allison Blair, who crossed the border from Michigan to go to the new store, Leo’s Mercado, in Marinette.
Blair, from Menominee, Michigan, said she was able to get things there that she hasn’t been able to have in three or more years.
Before the store opened earlier this summer, Blair said she had to rely on friends from Texas to send her the essentials.
“I was looking for some corn tortillas, some good fresh ones because I know I have to go to Green Bay to get the good stuff,” said Blair.
It’s something co-owner Salina Hernandez knows all about.
“We have a huge Hispanic community here, and we wanted to bring some light to that, by bringing in the store,” Hernandez told Local 5’s Barrett Tryon.
After a few years of debating whether or not to open their own shop, she and her husband, Eduardo, decided now was the time to do it. Meeting demand for an area that did not have a market specializing in Mexican food.
“We would travel to Green Bay, for some of our stuff, and then if we wanted certain stuff we would travel to Milwaukee, El Rey, and you know some of our customers even traveled to Chicago,” said Hernandez.
The store is actually named after the couple’s son, Leo, but the slogan is something they live by here and that’s “bringing family home.”
It’s something Hernandez is passionate about, and proven by the great lengths that some people travel to come to her shop.
“We have customers that come from Escanaba, every weekend they come, they pile up in cargo vans, and come and check us out,” Hernandez said.
The store has plans for more. Hernandez said they will eventually expand to meat and branch out from there. If the store does not have what you’re looking for, chances are they will find it and get it for you.
“My husband travels to Chicago every Monday, to get the items that you need, and brings them back. So he leaves at three or four in the morning and comes back at eight or nine at night,” Hernandez added.
A small store that’s already making a huge impact.
The store is located at 2739 Roosevelt Rd., Suite B, in Marinette. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can follow along the store’s journey on its Facebook page.