(EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of the quotes in this story were translated from Spanish and may not be complete.)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Going to the grocery store is a weekly chore for most families. But if you’re searching for a product from another country or culture, it is usually confined to the single “ethnic” or “international” aisle of your local big box store. That is not the case at El Progreso Latino.
“When we moved to Champaign, there was no Mexican or Latino grocery store,” recalls store owner Alex Corado.
TCorado and his family opened the store 14 years ago when they came here from Guatemala. For them, it is a taste of home.
“I feel that all of us that live in this place, look for a little piece of our roots,” explains store employee Cindy Palma.
Those roots run deep throughout the aisles of El Progrso.
If you are looking for a product from a certain Central or South American country, you will find it here — everything from spices, food, snacks, candy, and even kitchen & home items.
If you are firing up the grill, you can get your cut at the carnicería, or butcher shop.
And if you get all your grocery shopping done, but you are too tired to cook when you get home, you can go to the connected restaurant for some delicious tacos and more.
The store has also created a sense of community. Employees say the Hispanic population in Champaign County and beyond is big.
“This community is very friendly. It’s nice to work in a place where they speak your language and you can also have a conversation with them” says Palma. “They just don’t come in, pay, and leave. You can also ask how they are and how their day is going and they will talk.”
But El Progreso is a welcoming place to all. Non-Hispanic people frequent the store looking to try something new.
No matter who you are, Corado says you are more than just a shopper there.
“The customer is not like a customer for us. It’s a friend. We know every single name of the people who come here.”
The Corado family also has store locations in Urbana and Rantoul.
WCIA will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage all month, culminating in a 30-minute special on Thursday, October 13th at 6:30PM.