Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
Mercado Latino Society was founded with the intention of helping the Latino community get into businesses for themselves. We have found that it takes a village to get an immigrant's new business off the ground and Mercado Latino is that village. We provide resources and venues as well as have a consultant who can help our member's navigate through the necessary steps to take their business to the next level.
Margie Escalante-Naslund is president of the society and part of a five-member board. She had moved to a farm at the border of Aldergrove and Abbotsford just a few months before the pandemic hit, and changed everything.
She had been going across the border every other week to visit her mother-in-law and gather food supplies.
“There is a very limited amount of food products here,” she said. “It was a routine for me.”
When the border was closed, she was forced to look closer to home. And she realized quickly that she wasn’t alone.
Escalante-Naslund put the call out on Facebook for people making and selling Latin foods and goods, and was overwhelmed with the response.
“I started to get a huge influx of messages,” she said. “So I said, ‘I’m going to open up my driveway. Why doesn’t everyone come with a table. I’ll invite friends and family members and we’ll all buy from you.’ ”
They started that with 10 vendors, and now it has grown to a large group of 60 vendors and nearly 1,000 people in their Facebook group. They don’t have one specific place to shop; rather, they travel around the Fraser Valley, setting up together and supporting each other.
It’s not just about buying and selling either. The board is made up of Latino professionals who offer help with everything from understanding and filling out immigration papers to buying a home in Canada or starting a new business. They are now also a registered not-for-profit organization.