Lupita opens in new locale
WORTHINGTON -- One of Worthington's longest running Hispanic-owned businesses continues to broaden its scope of services, and now has a new and expanded location to bring it more visibility.
Mini Market Lupita opened in the former American Legion on the corner of Oxford Street and Douglas Avenue two months ago. There, customers can find everything from fresh meat and bakery products, to grocery items, greeting cards, gifts, perfumes and piñatas. They also have money orders available and can pay for local services, from phone and gas cards to electricity.
Owner Maria Parga is still settling into the new surroundings while steadily making progress to remodel areas of the facility. Since the store opened, customers have been able to purchase items from a small deli that serves an assortment of Mexican dishes, from burrito dinners to the spicy beef tinga.
"Everything we make here is fresh," said Parga, adding that limited seating is available at this time.
Meanwhile, plans continue to progress on the creation of a restaurant, which Parga would like to see open by the time they host their grand opening celebration April 8-10. The grand opening will include several specials throughout the store, as well as some prize giveaways.
Parga said the new location has already resulted in new customers coming in the door.
"It's not easy to (attract people from different cultures), because they don't know much about my business," she said. "But, I have regular customers.
"We tried for a long time to have American customers (shop here), but they have very nice stores to go to, and we don't have the buying power to bring in lots of products," she added. "We feel so happy when American people come in here to eat and look. It's nice to have that relationship."
Since opening her first business in Worthington in 1992, Parga has concentrated on offering the "hard to find" products in her store. She started in business with Video Lupita, but slowly grew into a one-stop shop for many of her Hispanic customers.
In those early years, Parga made several trips to Mexico each year to bring back products most sought after by her customers -- special spices and foods they were unable to find locally. She'd sleep in her truck and sometimes have to bring her children along on the journey.
"In those years, it was very necessary (to bring products up from Mexico). Nobody here had tortillas," said Parga.
As more Hispanics settled here and started other businesses, she now has products delivered right to her door.
Parga has long been a businesswoman, dating back to her childhood in Mexico, where she earned money by selling Avon and Tupperware products. When she relocated to Minnesota, she dreamed of owning her own shop.
"I love what I do," she said. "I like to talk to people."
For nearly 20 years, Parga has owned Video Lupita -- formerly located on East Avenue. She changed the name to Mini Market Lupita with the move to Oxford Street to better reflect the business.
Parga is pleased with the new location.
"I like the parking (here), the location and the shape of the building," she said. "Now, this is square and much easier."
Since purchasing the former Legion building, Parga removed the old restrooms and created new restrooms in another area of the building. The kitchen was also reconstructed, with all new equipment purchased to meet the building code.
She is in the process now of completing the restaurant and seating area and, once it is finished, she plans to offer daily lunch and dinner specials.
Until then, the deli has daily offerings, and limited seating is available.
Deli hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with the store open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. During and after the grand opening, Parga said store hours will be extended to 10 p.m.
Parga gives a lot of credit to local agencies that have helped her grow and expand her business in Worthington. She received a small business loan from the Southwest Initiative Foundation, and also was financed by First State Bank Southwest and the Fulda Area Credit Union.
"If they didn't help me, I couldn't move," she said.
Parga also gives a lot of credit to her family and friends who have helped her out along the way. Mini Market Lupita has eight employees, both full- and part-time