January 30, 2013
Over the past 20 years, Iowa's Latino population has nearly quadrupled and a local magazine is helping serve as the voice for that community. El Trueque is now in 12 cities and reaches thousands of Iowans each month. It is the only Latino magazine in the state.
Manuel Galvez created the magazine seven years ago. He is in charge of distributing the magazine to Eastern Iowa’s Latino businesses. It’s a job he relishes.
“I feel like I am so blessed that I have this opportunity to be talking with many different people and listening to them and learning from them. The Latino community, we come from many different countries, and it’s very rich for me on a personal level. It’s an opportunity to receive feedback,” Galvez said.
Feedback for Galvez is easy to come by. He said he often receives input from business owners and patrons regarding what they want to see in the magazine which includes everything from advertisements to details on social issues to ways for Latinos to get out with the family.
“We’ve been attached to el Trueque for so long, and we’ve always had really good feedback from that,” Maria Lourdes Hernandez of
Adriana Salon and Spa in Iowa City said. Adriana’s Salon has been advertising with El Trueque since the magazine first started.
"For awhile we were the only Latino salon in the area. So that is one of the main reasons that El Trueque helped us so much, because he (Galvez) did put out there that we did speak Spanish,” Hernandez said.
That endorsement brought in plenty of customers for the salon. It also worked just down the street for Jose Meza of Meza Auto.
“Many of my customers have seen the ad in El Trueque, I know it definitely has worked for me to get my name out there in the Hispanic community. Of course, I have customers from everywhere,” Meza said.
El Trueque means "The Trader" in Spanish. It’s become a place for Hispanic owned businesses to advertise, to find each other and to find a place in their respective communities
"Small local business is the backbone of this community, not just the Hispanic business you know, but everybody,” Meza said.
“What has helped us with businesses like El Trueque is that we become a part of not just our personal family and the ones that come into our salon, but we become a part of a bigger family,” Hernandez said.
At Adriana’s Salon it’s common for customers to want to know where they can get out and enjoy themselves. Hernandez said it’s easy for her to help them out because El Trueque announces events for Latinos online and in the magazine.
“It’s, you know, looking into our roots. I find it interesting to show my kids, they’re little, you know, how our culture works because they do things, they dance, that they wouldn’t see any other way,” Meza said.
Hernandez said it’s important for Latinos to attend events. "We're all so close we want to keep it that way,” Hernandez said.
They say El Trueque’s is succeeding in connecting the community, something Manuel Galvez takes to heart.
"When I come back, I am happy,” Galvez said about returning after delivering his magazines.
El Trueque also has a very interactive Facebook page and a large following online.