Mariela Ceballos, the owner of Tienda Mi Lupita in Vale. (Liliana Frankel/The Enterprise)

VALE – Rounds of bread crusted with shimmering pink sugar. Bins of fresh produce labeled with cheerful neon price tags. Piñatas emblazoned with birthday messages and trailing crepe paper.

The scene seems straight from the stalls of a Mexican market and transported to the corner of Main Street North and A Street in Vale. But Mariela Ceballos, the owner of the new Tiendita Mi Lupita, says that her little general store is meant to cater to Mexicans and Americans alike. 

“I think since Americans also like Mexican food, hopefully people from both sides will come,” she explained. 

About 25% of Vale’s population is Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data. Despite the community’s prominence, Tiendita Mi Lupita is currently the only Mexican store in Vale. 

Ceballos is from Guanajuato, a state in the central-northern part of Mexico. She met her husband, who is from Vale but has family in Mexico, around 2015, and they moved together back to Vale. 

At first, she said, life in Vale “seemed difficult because I was used to more people and more movement.” 

Ceballos worked at Chavelita’s, a Mexican restaurant also on A Street, for several years as a cook. She said that while she enjoyed honing her skills as a chef, it was trying to be away from her young daughter. 

“I said to myself, ‘I need to find a job where I am with my husband and daughter for the majority of the time,’” she said. “And where we’re making a little money to take care of ourselves.” 

Back in Guanajuato, Ceballos’ parents ran a general store, and Ceballos helped out from the time she was a child. With those memories close at hand, she decided to give the family business a try, opening her own store in Vale. 

Neither she nor her husband have been the principal owners of a business before. 

“I have all my faith stored in this little business that we just opened,” Ceballos said. “I have a lot of hopes for it.” 

Tiendita Mi Lupita is located at 104 A Street East and sells a variety of produce, including important staples of Mexican cooking like tomatoes, onions and chiles, as well as tropical fruits like papaya and Mandarin oranges. Beginning this week, it will also stock homemade Mexican treats like tamales and churros. 

The store is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday till Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. It is currently cash-only.

News tip? Contact Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577.

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