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The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU student working to create a Latino grocery store in Pullman

WSU senior sent out a survey to see what customers may want for the store, La Bailarina Tienda Latina
Leslie+Mu%C3%B1oz+hopes+to+make+this+store+a+common+place+for+people.+Photo+courtesy+of+Leslie+Mu%C3%B1oz
Leslie Muñoz hopes to make this store a “common place for people.” Photo courtesy of Leslie Muñoz

Senior psychology major Leslie Muñoz is currently working on creating a Latino grocery store in Pullman.

As part of her efforts, Muñoz released a survey last February to see what potential customers would want for the store. These efforts to put up the store, La Bailarina Tienda Latina, began out of a desire to make it easier for students to access items that are culturally important to them, Muñoz said.

“That’s something you hear once you get involved with the community, [things] like ‘We have no store, I have to go back to my hometown to get stuff and bring it over here,’” she said. “For on-campus events, it would be kind of difficult to provide for students, but also for the students themselves, they wanted to feel that piece of home.”

This has also been reflected in responses to the survey, as the answers have reflected a desire to be deeper connected to Latin culture, she said.

With these responses, the potential store has not only become a place where people hope to buy products they cannot find in the Pullman-Moscow area but also a place where those of Latin or Hispanic heritage can feel at home, she said.

“It goes beyond, ‘we need items’ to ‘I want to feel represented and I want to feel like I belong [and that] I’m part of a community,’” she said. “One thing that’s also come up is that people feel like they don’t connect as well with their culture because there’s no way for them to and they want to be able to connect [with] other people also within the culture.”

Muñoz not only hopes that the store will serve as a source of cultural fulfillment but also a way for her to fully give back to the community, she said.

“I don’t want it to be just the store but I want to collaborate with multicultural clubs on campus, provide scholarships and help DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipients,” she said. “I want it to exist for the community but also help the community.”

Despite doubts and negative comments from others, Muñoz’s efforts have largely been met with positive reactions, she said.

“I’ve met people who I don’t know and they’ll be like ‘Oh, I can’t wait for you to open the store!’ and I hope that increases once the store becomes a thing,” she said. “it ‘s helped me see how much people want to interconnect with each other.”

To assist her, Muñoz has been receiving training from the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and receives assistance from her business advisor, WSU alum Juan Garcia.

Muñoz receives training from the CIE and support and encouragement as well, Garcia said.

“It’s really [about] supporting a dream she has,” he said. “We, in our training, show her a different entrepreneur mindset.”

To make sure that she is able to start off well, the CIE has assisted her in creating a minimum viable product to test the market, Garcia said.

“If it’s something that is viable, she wouldn’t have been able to generate it from testing the idea first and I think that gives power to the entrepreneurs,” he said. “If she were to say, ‘I want a brick and mortar, I want to start this business, I need a loan,’ the bank’s gonna say no, then she starts hearing those from everyone else and she’s almost asking for permission, but she doesn’t need permission to start a business.”

Muñoz’ goal of the store being a source of culture and connection is shared by Garcia as well, he said.

“It’s more than just the business itself, it’s also that [sense of] community and love I think she’s going to bring through this business,” he said.

The store will also help add diversity to Pullman and show students the opportunities to be had in the community, Garcia said.

“I think how WSU and Pullman will benefit from it is that we show everyone that there’s opportunity here too as opposed to students graduating and then leaving looking for opportunities elsewhere,” he said. “I think what she’ll do is be a good role model [and] be a good community leader by representing more women, especially women of color, to show that if she can do it, so can everyone else. That is really the main thing that I love about all this and what she’s doing.”

To fund her efforts, Muñoz has a GoFundMe and will likely rely on fundraisers as well, she said. While her store is still in progress, she envisions a mobile store as a start to the business, in part to help her make the business more accessible. However, a physical location is her main goal.

“I have so many visions for when it actually becomes a brick and mortar location. I want it to be a place that’s really comfortable for people who go in there, I want to have traditional paintings and art on the walls and have music playing,” she said. “Once there’s a store, it’s gonna ease the struggle for a lot of students in the future, so I’m hoping to have a [positive] impact on the community…it’s not just a store, it’ll be a common place for people.”

Muñoz’ survey and GoFundMe can be found here.

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  • Earl YatesApr 3, 2024 at 5:24 pm

    I’m so proud of you Leslie.

    Reply