Valley’s Latino consumers appear to buck national economic slowdown
December 21, 2001 By Joseph Treviño
It's a week till Christmas, and Itzel Garcia is looking to buy a gift for her daughter.
Armed with a gift card, she decides for a dress at Union Gap's Macy's store. The 19-year-old Garcia says that though there's a recession, she still feels she has to buy gifts for her friends and relatives.
"I guess you still need to buy, you still need to shop around," says Garcia. "You feel so bad not to get people stuff. You just manage around and try to go for the sale."
Garcia is just one of the Yakima Valley's countless Latinos who are braving the recession and turning out in droves to local small businesses and national stores like Wal-Mart, Sears, Target and Macy's to do their Christmas shopping.
There's no breakdown of sales for Latinos, but anecdotal evidence suggests that local Latinos -- who make up more than 40 percent of the Valley's population -- account for a growing portion of the holiday season's sales. Jason Ostrer, Macy's store manager, says the Union Mall store did better than last year during the busy day after Thanksgiving, or what merchants call Black Friday.
In fact, the recession seems not to have affected most of the Valley's working-class Latinos, says Luz Bazan Gutierrez of Yakima's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Quite the contrary, she says: Latino businesses and establishments that cater to that community are thriving.
"What I am seeing is that this has not stopped people from moving forward on their plans for the future. They are buying commercial property; they are opening up new businesses," says Bazan. "So it may be a difficult time economically. But there are two things: People have to eat. And goods and services. So if you are providing goods and services for the Latino population, you are going to do OK."
Buyers and local experts say there are many reasons why local Latinos, especially immigrant Hispanics, are seemingly unaffected by the recession.
"We are mostly agricultural workers," says Manuel Rodriguez, who owns a local nightclub that caters to Hispanics and runs Centro de Servicios Latinos (Latino Service Center) in downtown Yakima. "Nobody is taking our jobs. That's one of the advantages. Things are changing for people who are buying homes and the ones who depend on their jobs."
Rodriguez says that immigrant Latinos tend to "al dia" (day by day): "When we have money, we spend it. For us, things do not change. We are in the same situation."
National chain stores like Wal-Mart and Sears are seeing a barrage of Latino shoppers during the holiday season, but they seem to have targeted one store in particular: Macy's. Both working- and middle-class buyers say they are infatuated with its classy aura, the brand-name clothing, the elegant china, the jewelry and fragrance and cosmetic sections.
Julio Romero, a longtime citizenship teacher from Mexico who works as a consumer credit counselor in the Valley, says some of Macy's chic mystique often reminds immigrant Latinos of traditional upscale stores in Mexico like Dorians, Sanborns, Liverpool and El Palacio de Hierro (this last store was modeled directly after Macy's in New York City when it first built its stores in Mexico City in the late 1880s).
While in their countries of origin, immigrant Latino may not have had access to these stores due to lack of money and class barriers, where social ranks are clearly marked. But in Yakima, their newfound buying power gives them a ticket to places like Sears and Macy's, Romero says.
"We are predisposed to go to these stores to buy what we like. Even if it means a (financial) sacrifice to us, what we believe that will make us happy. I know many Latinos who do not buy second-hand clothing," says Romero, who also does his shopping at Macy's.
The popularity of Macy's and other chain stores in the Latino community may be due to an increase in outreach and advertising, says Bazan Gutierrez, who is a Macy's customer and bought a pair of shoes last week. She recalls when up until the early 1990s, Latinos were not made to feel welcome in Yakima's posh stores. She lauds Macy's for its willingness to hire bilingual associates and for its good customer service, two ingredients she claims are the key to tap into the Latino market.
Macy's has been focusing on the Latino community since 1995, says Janet De Vor, director of Media Relations. She adds that the store's current "Believe" campaign has been translated into Spanish and that well-known Hispanic artists like Carlos Santana, Ana de la Reguera and Carlos Ponce have done national ads for them as well.
Locally, Macy's ads run in Spanish language television, radio and print, including El Sol de Yakima, the Yakima Herald-Republic's sister publication.
Ostrer, the local store manager, says he believes the emphasis on good customer service, in addition to the many associates who are bilingual, have been the reason for Macy's success in the Latino community. The store normally has 110 employees but hired aggressively for the holiday season and now has 240 workers, he says.
"I do think that part of it is the fact we employ Spanish-speaking people," says Ostrer. "The status brands that we carry aren't available at a lot of different stores."
But Macy's is far from being the only store with a successful record among local Latinos. Fiesta Foods opened up last year to great success, and two weeks ago Verizon Wireless of Union Gap hosted three of Mexico's top soap opera superstars who were cheered by 1,500 fans in the cold for an autograph-signing event.
Bazan Gutierrez sees these things as a good sign. She recommends that other local businesses cater to the growing Latino buying power by hiring bilingual workers. She says that she keeps in touch with local Latino-owned businesses and, from what she has heard, the news is good.
"I ask them all. How are things doing? Great. 'Gracias a Dios'
His suitcase stuffed with gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles, Cesar Martinez arrived at Oakland International Airport with high expectations for his first Christmas in Mexico.
"They told me they have a big celebration. They close down the block," said the 15-year-old student at Richmond High School. "I'm not sure. I'll find out."
The teenager boarded a midnight flight Wednesday bound for the city of Leon. As he soared off to celebrate Christmas, New Year's and El Dia de los Reyes in warmer climes, the rest of his family was not so lucky — they dropped him off, walked out into the 40-degree weather and drove back to Richmond.
"I want to go, but the economy right now ..." said his father, Hilario Martinez, trailing off as the family accompanied the teen through the check-in line. It was a long line but not as long as it has been in previous years, many travelers said.
Each winter brings a pilgrimage of Mexican-Americans headed south by car, bus and plane for family visits that could last for days, weeks or even a few months. But flights are down this year, and those heading to Mexico have recession on their minds.
In 2006 and 2007, 19 flights left Oakland each week for Mexico during November and December. This year, Mexicana Airlines had seven weekly flights to Mexico out of Oakland during November and 11 per week this month — one a day to Guadalajara, and two each week to both Zacatecas and Leon, Advertisement said airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes. The drop was not unique to Mexican travel. Oakland this year eliminated a three-times-a-week holiday season flight to El Salvador.
"When we ask people, 'Are you going back to Mexico for Christmas?' a lot of them say, 'No, not this year, because money is difficult,'"‰" said Juan Manuel Sanchez, an official at the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco. "They want to wait a little to see what happens. They are taking some precautions, trying not to spend a lot of money."
Sanchez said the number of Mexican-born Americans and their children obtaining three-year or six-year Mexican passports in 2008 grew slightly, but not everyone who gets a passport plans on going home for the holidays.
"I don't have enough money to go this year," said Hayward resident Marco Antonio Garcia, who picked up a passport Thursday at the consular office in downtown San Francisco. "I got it for emergencies. Maybe in a year, two years, I'll go."
Pittsburg residents Jorge and Leticia Melgoza took off for Mexico from the Oakland airport early Thursday morning — most of the flights leave between midnight and 2 a.m.
"We miss the family. It's been a while," Leticia Melgoza said. "And the food, the piñatas."
Jorge Melgoza said the Concord company he works for has been hit hard by the recession. He is now in the middle of a big San Francisco high-rise construction project, but many workers were laid off this year. He said he has friends and colleagues who have talked of returning to Mexico for good, though he is not sure they will follow through with the talk. The Melgozas said they are too intimately tied to the Bay Area to consider it.
A study released last week by the nonprofit Pew Hispanic Center found a "small but significant decline" in the share of Latino immigrants active in the United States labor force. In the construction industry, about 156,000 Latinos, both native-born and immigrant, lost jobs this year. The unemployment rate for immigrant Latinos grew from 4.5 percent to 6.4 percent between the third quarters of 2007 and 2008, and would likely have gone higher — to 7.8 percent — had many workers not withdrawn from the labor market entirely, researchers reported. Whether the withdrawal is due to migrants returning to their countries of origin is not known, the report shows.
Sanchez said his consulate and the Mexican government have no evidence that a large number of Mexican-Americans will return home for Christmas and stay permanently. In a globalized economy, conditions will be no better there than here, he said.
"If they lost a job, they're going to look for another one," Sanchez said. "Or they are going to relocate in the U.S. in cities or places where they know there are offers. Going back to Mexico is the last option for people who didn't find a job or couldn't relocate."
Beginning in mid-October, Mexico's San Francisco consulate began asking passport applicants survey questions about whether they had lost their jobs, whether their personal finances have been affected and if they are planning to return to Mexico. Alameda and Contra Costa counties have the most Mexican-Americans in the consulate's jurisdiction, which covers Hawaii and all of coastal California from the Peninsula north to the Oregon border. So far this year, 75 people have applied for a special visa that travelers pick up when they plan on moving their household goods, including their cars, to Mexico. Seventy people applied for special documents used for students transferring from American to Mexican schools.
Hector Peralta, a consular documents official for more than 20 years, said he did not expect holiday returnees to start looking for work in Mexico. It's supposed to be a time for relaxation, and doing otherwise would be a sign to family members that things were not going well.
He expects even the most financially frustrated travelers to continue to do what they have always done — give the impression that life up north is going OK.
"If you have a big car, it will show you are making big business," Peralta said. "If you bring so many presents, it shows the same. It shows that you are doing good."
A year ago, Yunis Sandivar's travel agency in Arlington County was doing a brisk business in round-trip holiday tickets to Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador. This season, she says, those ticket sales have fallen by 40 percent compared with last December, and a surprising number of customers are buying one-way tickets home -- temporarily giving up on the U.S. economy after years of legal residency.
"Normally at this time, we are full of people, but just look around. The office is empty. We would not survive except for the one-way tickets," Sandivar said. "Our community is facing a very crude reality right now. People have lost their houses, their jobs, their businesses. They are not going home to see their families -- they are going home until the situation here improves. It is going to be a very sad Christmas."
Among the estimated half-million Latin American immigrants in the Washington region, Christmas has long been a season of sentimental and physical reconnection. Extended families are separated by relatively short distances, united by Christian traditions and accustomed to exchanging gifts -- shipped by Hispanic-owned courier services -- including electric appliances and children's party clothes.
This year, however, the area's Latino communities have been hit hard by the national economic slump, with the construction trade devastated by the financial crisis, service industries laying off workers and immigrant small-businesses owners hurt because their customers are without work.
As a result, Latino families across the economic spectrum are scaling back their plans for traveling or sending elaborate gift packages to their home countries.
At travel agencies that specialize in Latin American destinations, several agents said they had sold about one-third fewer tickets than last year. Adriana Loiza, who manages AB City Travel in Arlington, said about 60 customers had purchased one-way tickets home in the past month, figuring they would save money while waiting out the U.S. economic crisis. Several others who had bought round-trip tickets on layaway had to cancel their plans at the last moment.
"One family of four wanted to go to Bolivia for Christmas," Loiza said. "The total cost was $7,000, and they were paying about $400 at a time. But this week the man called me and said he had lost his job, or his last paycheck had bounced, and he could not make the final payment. I told him I was very sorry, but if you don't pay the entire amount before your flight, you can't go."
In past years, Ramon Alvarado, the owner of a small painting company in Springfield, was doing well enough financially to visit his parents back home in El Salvador for Christmas and New Year's. Eager to share his success, he always arrived carrying a generous supply of gifts and toys for families in his native town.
This Christmas, with virtually no new customers, Alvarado, 32, has decided to forgo his annual trip and customary largess. Although he is still making enough to support his family, he said, "I just cannot be Santa this year. It's not only the cost of the plane tickets, it's that one feels ashamed to go home empty-handed."
In interviews in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland last week, Hispanic business owners, shoppers and laborers said they were facing similar financial struggles, sharp drops in sales or contracts, and a gnawing worry for the future that had clouded their holiday spirits.
Stores and services that depend on Latino customers have made valiant efforts to create a festive atmosphere with floating reindeer balloons, twinkling lights and CDs playing "Jingle Bells." One Hispanic grocery chain in Northern Virginia featured a live Santa Claus last weekend and took out Spanish-language newspaper and radio ads inviting customers to bring their children for photos.
But the hoopla seemed unable to dispel the glum mood. In one newspaper, which featured ads for the Santa appearances last week, there were also ads for Spanish-speaking lawyers and Realtors that showed worried-looking families fretting over unpaid bills. "Is the current crisis knocking on your door?" one ad said. "Don't let the bank take away your house . . . get out of debt without creating tax problems," read another.
In several Hispanic-oriented shopping centers, discount gift shops and package mailing businesses were almost empty during daytime visits last week, although some managers said they were hoping for a burst of sales over the final weekend before Christmas. Most customers seemed to browse without buying.
"Last year, I was able to send my parents and brothers a big box of shoes, clothes and toys. This year, I'm not sure I'll be able to send them twenty dollars," said Osmin Perez, 30, a construction company employee from El Salvador who was rifling through a rack of tiny soccer shirts at a shop in Langley Park. "There is no work at all. I keep waiting for the company to call, but nothing comes in. I'm lucky my own kids are just babies, so any little gift will make them happy."
Even worse off are thousands of Latino day laborers -- many of whom are in the country illegally but an increasing number of whom are legal residents down on their luck -- who depend on brief, casual cash jobs moving furniture, painting apartments or raking leaves. At a nonprofit labor center in Silver Spring last week, the walls were bare of Christmas decorations, and the faces of a dozen waiting men were lined with worry.
"I'm an optimist and I like to celebrate, but we'll be lucky if we have enough for the turkey," said Pedro Guadron, 46, an immigrant from El Salvador who once ran a small contracting business but now spends most mornings at the labor center. "I was proud to buy a house, but this year we had to take in relatives to help pay the mortgage. The way I feel right now, Christmas doesn't exist for me."
In a chair nearby, another middle-aged man slumped silently, his wool cap pulled low. After a while, he began to pour out a tale of loss and failure, of walking long distances because he had no bus fare, of going for weeks without bringing home a day's pay, of swallowing his pride and seeking charity from a church.
"Back in my country, I have kids and a wife and a little piece of land," said the man, who gave his name as Jesus. "I had no idea how hard everything would be here. I can't even pay my room rent, let alone send them something for Christmas. I think about going home, but where would I ever find enough money to make the trip?"
A relatively new cash-sending service aimed at the growing Hispanic population is being introduced in the East Valley through kiosks at Circle K and ExxonMobil stores.
Called "Cajero (Cashier) Nexxo," the service is being offered by San Bruno, Calif.-based Nexxo Financial Corp. and TIO Networks Corp., a bill payment processor.
The service allows senders to insert up to $1,000 in cash into the machine. The money can be sent to more than 21,000 bank branches in Mexico and Latin America.
The fee for sending $1,000 is $9.95 and includes a free 5-minute telephone call to alert the recipient the money has been sent.
There are 346 kiosks available in Arizona, including 136 in Phoenix, 38 in Mesa, 19 in Tempe and several in Gilbert and Scotts-dale, according to Nexxo.
"There remains a strong need in the Hispanic community for sending funds to loved ones back home in a safe, easy and cost-effective manner," said David Alvarez, Nexxo chief executive officer.
Lorena Leyva, a cashier at Circle K and a Phoenix native, has been using the service for several months. Every two weeks, she sends cash to her sister and mother-in-law in Mexico.
"At first, I was a little worried," said Leyva. "But now I really like it. I especially like calling Mexico and letting them know the money was sent."
Leyva isn't sending cash during the holidays because she has already spent her extra money on gifts, but she'll feed the machine with bills after New Year's Day, she said.
The service began on an experimental basis in May with 25 test kiosks in the Valley, said Sandra Bernardo, spokeswoman for the corporation.
The additional kiosks were gradually added as word spread, Bernardo said.
"We're expecting to increase the number of available kiosks in Arizona," Bernardo said. Future sites will include Circle K and ExxonMobil, as well as other retail outlets, shesaid.
The company, which began offering the service in 2006, expects to open more than 2,000 sites by next year in California, Texas and Arizona.
Joseph Ortiz, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce spokesman, said his agency is in the process of gathering information about the service before endorsing it.
"It sounds good, but a lot depends on its success," said Ortiz. "Also, people who use the service have to feel confident about putting their cash into a machine. The chamber would like to see some personal interaction with Hispanics who use the service for the first time, if anything, to make them feel comfortable."
Ortiz said in 2007 more than $66 billion was sent via electronic money transfers from the United States to Latin America, including $24 billion to Mexico.
The money transfer market between the United States and Latin American Corridor is expected to be more than $100 billion by 2010, including $5 billion in fees, according to Nexxo. There are an estimated 20 million remitters in the United States, the corporation reported.
The Nexxo cash-sending service is among several available at the kiosks, including paying bills by using credit cards and obtaining cash through an ATM. It is operated by touching the computer screen.
Founders of latinoteca.com wanted to create a site where teachers, students and others interested in Latino culture could find what they needed.
The result, says latinoteca%.com co-founder Nicolás Kannellos, has been a well-received portal where Latinos and non-Latinos can find accurate information about Hispanic history and culture. <
br>“We wanted to make this information available to the public,” Kannellos says of the Web site’s roots as a research project by professors at the University of Houston and its publishing house, Arte Público Press.
The Web site, he says, was a natural extension of the work he and others at the university did over the years, calling the site “an electronic hub for Latino cultural resources.”
Latinoteca.com launched in September and contains free, downloadable texts, audio recordings, videos and other materials. There are sections for teachers and students, scholars and researchers, and authors and artists.
Kannellos says information is carefully screened before it’s posted on the Web site.
“We explore the Web for correct, Latino cultural information. There’s a lot of inaccurate information out there,” says Kannellos, a professor of Spanish at the University of Houston and founding publisher of the acclaimed literary journal The Americas Review.
Some of the material on% Latinoteca.com is historical information on art, history, journalism, literature and music about Latinos in the United States.
Kannellos says plans for the site include teaming up with a cultural organization dedicated to Latino history and art and expanding latinoteca%.com to include a film database.
Some sit around and complain that Hollywood doesn't make enough movies with good parts for Hispanic actors. Freddy Rodríguez did something about it.
Along with producing partner Robert Teitel, Rodríguez persuaded Overture Films to make its Christmas dramedy about a Puerto Rican family in Chicago. The movie was released Dec. 12 and earned $3.5 million in its first weekend.
"It was tough — definitely a big challenge from beginning," Rodríguez said in a phone interview last week.
"In Hollywood, you can get things done if you have good credit; just like in real life if you go and buy a car or want a house, it's the same thing. In Hollywood, if you build up enough good credit by doing good projects, your respect accumulates."
Rodríguez built up much of his credit cache as Rico, the corpse-reconstruction makeup artist on HBO's "Six Feet Under." He parlayed the breakthrough role into a bloomingfilm career, including major roles in "Planet Terror" and "Lady in the Water" as well as a guest stint on "Ugly Betty." "Nothing Like the Holidays" is Rodríguez's debut as an executive producer. He also plays the role of Jesse, a wounded Iraq War veteran who returns home and tries to get his life back together.
Rodríguez said he took the reins of the casting, rounding up old friends John Leguizamo and Debra Messing to play a married couple, with Leguizamo as Jesse's uptight brother. He's also close to character actor Luis Guzmán, who signed on to play a boisterous family friend. Once those actors were attached, Rodríguez made his push for Alfred Molina to play the family's macho, secretive patriarch.
"He was the hardest person to get. He's such a busy guy," Rodríguez said. "He's British and a lot of people don't even realize that, but I really wanted him for the movie and wasn't sure if he was gonna go for it."
To round out his cast, Rodríguez called on his credit once again, contacting Elizabeth Avellan, one of the producers on "Planet Terror," whom Rodríguez said is tight with Molina pal Salma Hayek. Molina was hooked by the cast and the script.
Rodríguez said he felt pressure to do the film right in order to make it successful so it could provide more opportunities for Hispanic actors and filmmakers. As a reverse template, he used "Chasing Papi," the awful 2003 Hispanic comedy in which Rodríguez played a supporting role. He called the movie the only one he's made that he doesn't like.
"I pointed to it and said, 'This is what we don't want to do,' " Rodríguez said, later commenting on how easy it is to see a movie project turn awful if it's made carelessly and for the wrong reasons. "In a general sense, not pointing a finger at any film specifically, if you just slap a film together and slap a bunch of Latin actors together and the directing sucks, the script sucks and everything sucks, you can't put that out there and expect the Latin audience to pay $10 to see it," Rodríguez said. "The Latin audience is not stupid and will not support a film just because it's Latin."
Rodríguez said he acquired a taste for producing on "Nothing Like the Holidays" and plans to serve a similar role in two films he'll make next year. One is too early in development for him to feel comfortable mentioning, but the other is a "City of God"-like drama set in Puerto Rican slums called "Julito Maraña," which Rodríguez translated as "Julito and the f----- up situation." He chuckled when told there was a town in Arizona called Marana.
Rodríguez hopes "Nothing Like the Holidays" is the start of something big not only for him but the diversity of movies in general.
"If one does well. then the studio heads in Hollywood write checks," Rodríguez said. "If they see American films revolving around a Latin cast making money, they'll make more. At the end of the day, the studio heads don't sit there and see black, white or brown. They just see green."
In 1980, La Mirada and Whittier and some of the surrounding unincorporated areas were mostly white communities.
But the last 27 years in the Whittier area has brought growing numbers of Latinos through migration and propogation.
These changes were dramatically illustrated in the newest 2007 U.S. Census data.
Latinos make up about 64 percent of Whittier in contrast to 23 percent in 1980; they are now equal to the number of whites in La Mirada; and make up 91 percent of the population in Pico Rivera.
Pete Lopez, past president of the Hispanic Outreach Taskforce, attributes these changes to people trying to improve themselves by moving into better areas.
"I used to live in East Los Angeles, but as you get more education and more affluent you go to the better areas," Lopez said. "For example, you might decide to go to La Mirada, which is one of the top cities."
People also are looking for better schools, Lopez said.
The demographic changes also have forced businesses and school to rethink their practices, he said.
"If you go into a business you want to see a Latino behind the counter," Lopez said. "If you go into a school, you want to see a Latino as principal."
And these things are happening, he said.
The new numbers reported by the Census Bureau for cities between 20,000 and 65,000 population are considered estimates and based on three years of data collected nationwide from about 250,000 ddresses per month.
Whittier Councilman Owen Newcomer said the changes are just reflective of Southern California, which also is becoming more Latino.
Newcomer also agrees with Lopez, saying people want to move up economically and that means moving east.
"Whittier is about as far east in Los Angeles County as you can go," he said.
But these demographic changes are not bad, he said.
"Whatever your ethnicity, you still want a good school, you want a safe and pleasant neighborhood to live and you want to be able to get together with friends and go to a movie."
The new data also shows for some of the local communities that more people were born in the United States, are U.S. citizens and speak English "very well."
"That's good news," said Victor Ledesma, community liaison for the Hispanic Outreach Taskforce. "That's the way it should be. If people are going to be productive and do something to help the economy, they have to learn English."
Ledesma said he believes that the numbers of foreign-born and those without U.S. citizenship are shrinking because of a lack of available jobs.
Pico Rivera Councilman Ron Beilke, whose city shows gains in education, a reduction in foreign-born and an increase in those who can speak English, said he's not surprised by the numbers.
"I think what you're seeing is the stability of our community," Beilke said.
"In Pico Rivera, we have generations of families that have stayed in the community," he said. "That lessens the ability of others to come into our community."
Some were surprised by the numbers.
La Mirada Councilman Hal Malkin said he doesn't believe the percentage of Asians is shrinking from 15 percent to 12.9 percent, as shown by the newly released census data.
"I have a question because of the buildup we've had in Hawkes Point (a housing development to the east of Beach Boulevard) and the northern part of Hillsborough," Malkin said. "There's a huge Asian population there and, if anything, it's growing."
Malkin said he's not surprised or bothered by the increase in Latinos.
"That's to be expected," he said. "Diversity is something that we look for and are very proud of," he said.
Nearly all of the areas also showed significant increases in education of the population from 2000.
For example, the percentage of those with at least a high school diploma grew from 55 percent to 62 percent in Pico Rivera, from 79 to 81.4 percent in Whittier and from 81 percent to 86.5 percent in La Mirada.
If you're still shopping for holiday gifts, there's plenty available to satisfy the tastes of almost everyone on your wish list.
From greeting cards to dolls, you can give presents that reflect the Latino culture. Conexión takes a look at some of the items available in stores and online:
The images of beautiful Latinas come on these postcards that are intended for mailing, but would look great framed. Other images available in the series of postcards made by Chronicle Books include images from Mexican cinema and phrasesde amor. The postcards can be purchased online at chroniclebooks.com, or locally at Whole Earth Provision Co., 255 E. Basse Road. Call (210) 829-8888 for more information.
Bilingual greeting cards
Hallmark launched its bilingual and bicultural greeting card line, Sinceramente, in 2003. Sold individually or in boxed sets, the line's holiday cards are available in several locations. The Sinceramente line is available at most Walgreens stores and at Hallmark retail shops across the city.
Check out these Web sites for some ideas for the younger ones on your holiday wish list:
Founded by two San Antonio mothers who wanted to celebrate and their share their Latino culture with their young children, Baby Besos is an online store that features baby clothing, toys, books and games with a bilingual and bicultural bent. Call (210) 255-1097 for more information.
Karito Kids is the brand name given to ethnically diverse dolls and books made by KidsGive, a company that aims to be socially responsible by encouraging children to donate to kids' causes around the world. The company donates a percentage of profits from each sale to various charities and keeps patrons up to date on how the money was spent. Karito Kids products are sold at Learning Express, 255 E. Basse Road. Call (210) 930-4442 for more information.
This company founded by three Latina mothers in Florida creates dolls and songbooks that reflect the importance of abuelitos in Latino culture. Each doll sings a collection of Spanish nursery rhymes. Baby Abuelita products can be purchased at most San Antonio Wal-Mart and Target stores, or can be ordered online.