Mexican market expanding its borders

You probably won’t find a ripe “chayote con espina” or a juicy “xoconostle” at your local supermarket, but the spiky, potato-like vegetable and the colorful cactus fruit are popular items at La Huerta International Market in Kent.

Kent business is thriving

You probably won’t find a ripe “chayote con espina” or a juicy “xoconostle” at your local supermarket, but the spiky, potato-like vegetable and the colorful cactus fruit are popular items at La Huerta International Market in Kent.

Located at 403 E. Smith St., the 3-year-old market offers a wide variety of south-of-the-border produce, meats, baked goods, dry goods and an authentic Mexican restaurant to Kent’s diverse community.

“We have a little bit of everything,” said Rossy Murguia, who owns the store with her husband, Juan.

Murguia, originally from a town near Mazatlan, Mexico, came to the U.S. 10 years ago and soon settled in Kent. After meeting her husband, she said the couple had dreams of being self-employed. But they didn’t know what type of business they wanted to start at first.

“We decided not to work for anybody else,” Murguia said. “We wanted to just work for us and make money for ourselves and our children.”

They originally had plans to start a produce stand, but when the market’s current location became available, those plans grew into something more substantial. They renovated what was an old clinic and opened a grocery store and meat market, stocking it with a wide variety of goods from their home country.

Murguia said it took some time to attract customers, but soon business took off.

“It was really slow at first,” she said. “We could even take weekends off. But now we work every day. It’s full all the time.”

A year after the market’s November 2005 opening, La Huerta added a Mexican restaurant, which Murguia said is more Mexican than most.

“It’s pretty authentic,” she said. “It’s like how your mom would make it for you in your house in Mexico.”

Only a few months ago, the market also added a bakery, offering unique Mexican breads.

A lot has happened with the store lately, Murguia said, but it hasn’t all been in Kent. The Murguias recently opened a store modeled after the Kent market in Tacoma, in a bigger, nicer facility.

“Last year, somebody offered us a store in Tacoma, and we decided to take it,” she said. “It was a good opportunity, so we decided to take the risk.”

Once that store is running smoothly, she said the next goal is to expand the Kent market into the building next door and start a tortilla factory there. She also wants to make the international market better fit its name.

“The plan is to actually be international, to have a lot of food from other different countries, and that’s why we’re expanding,” she said. “We have a lot of Indian people, Chinese people and American people coming in all the time, not just Mexican people.”

Still, she said the store’s success is partially due to the large Hispanic population in Kent, and she likes doing business here.

“I like it here a lot,” Murguia said. “There are a lot of Hispanic people in this area, and they can come here and get everything they need.”

For more information about La Huerta International Market, call 253-520-0198.

Contact Daniel Mooney at 253-437-6012 or dmooney@reporternewspapers.com.

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