WALLINGFORD — Lucia Pacheco was 21 years old when she moved from her hometown of Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico to Wallingford. Thirty years later she lives in Meriden, but owns her own Wallingford business, San Juanito Mexican Store, 35 N Colony St.
Pacheco recalls playing “store” when she was 7 years old pretending to sell items. Since she was a child, this was one of her many dreams that have become reality.
Pacheco previously owned a laundromat, Lucy’s Laundry, but was forced to close due to the pandemic. Two years ago, when she purchased San Juanito, she thought it would be great to run two businesses out of Wallingford. San Juanito is still going strong, satisfying a need among the local Mexican community.
“When I came to Wallingford, the Hispanic population was very small, and these stores were not around and to see a store that sells Mexican products, I thought it was beautiful,” she said.
San Juanito sells Mexican handicrafts and spices such as mejorana and hoja santa, which can be used to create traditional Mexican plates. The store also sells tostadas and Mexican soda among its many products.
Mexican handcrafts such as Cazuelas de Barro (cooking pots), Jarras de Barro (Mexican jugs), wooden spoons, and “Bolsas de Mandado” (handbags) can also be found
Pacheco said members of the community enter her store to ask for recipes and spices that can be used to make Mexican meals.
“People will look up Mexican recipes and will see we have the spices and they get excited. I love seeing the smile on people’s faces when they try Mexican food, and they come back happy,” she said. “I want people to feel like they’re in Mexico when they enter my store.” Started with a visit
When Pacheco came to San Juanito two years ago, she visited with the intention of just looking, but found out the original owner was moving away. Pacheco saw her chance. She added Mexican handcrafts to the inventory.
Liz Davis, president of Wallingford Center Inc., a non-profit supporting local businesses, said they enjoy the diversity Wallingford has in town.
“We love the fact that this is a great resource. We welcome the diversity, this area is trying to get uplifted and that’s our driving force, and to make them feel welcome. I am glad people are visiting their facility and asking questions,” she said. Role model
Pacheco is the mother of three boys and a girl all raised in Wallingford. Her daughter also owns a business in Wallingford, Birrimania. Pacheco said she would like to be an example and a teacher to her children so they know they can accomplish their dreams too.
“Si todo lo haces bien todo de va bien,” she said, which translates to “if you do everything right, everything will go right.”
Pacheco’s future plans for the store include adding more Mexican products.
“Many people don't know our culture and food. What I love most is when people from different cultures get to know ours,” she said.
San Juanito is open from Monday to Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The owner can be reached at (203) 269-1943.