On a recent Saturday morning, a steady trickle of customers filed into Juanita’s Market. One man was looking for a piñata; another was stopping by for tortillas and other groceries.
Most, like Adrian Morillon, were eagerly hoping for a plate of fresh tamales —corn husks stuffed with cheese and jalapeño or green salsa with chicken.
“There are varieties of Mexican dishes that are extremely good,” he said. “It’s another opportunity for Mexicans to eat the foods they like.”
Tamales are just one of many options at Juanita’s Market, a new Mexican-style grocery store which opened in Victor last August. The store also sells carnitas, tacos, quesadillas and other classic Mexican fare.
José de Jesus Bocardo Susano, the store’s owner, said the offerings are always expanding. But it took him and his wife, Patricia Bocardo, some trial and error to figure it all out.
“We didn’t know anything about this business, so little by little we investigated and found suppliers. And she and I spoke about looking here or there, finding merchandise, finding products,” he said. “We didn’t have anything. Nothing.”
Bocardo Susano moved to Teton Valley from the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala about 26 years ago on the recommendation of a friend. The idea to open a store came to him long ago, he said, when his grandparents ran a market in the small Mexican village of Hueyotlipan.
“My grandmother and my grandfather had a store, and my grandfather died and my grandmother ran the store alone, and she had to close it. And from as long as I can remember, I’ve been thinking about that,” he said.
For three years, Bocardo Susano saved up as much money as he could from his second job in construction to finally open a market in Teton Valley, where census data shows about 17% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
Then he found out about an open storefront in the Togwotee Center on Highway 33, just outside of downtown Victor — and he knew it was the right place.
“I brought my wife, and we looked at it, and you just visualize yourself here inside. I can’t explain how I was feeling,” he said.
It also seemed natural to name the store “Juanita’s” after his grandmother, Juana Susano Cruz.
“One day, I don’t know how it came about, but my son said, ‘Juanita’s Market,’ and it stuck,” the owner recalled.
While Bocardo Susano said it’s a lot of work to run the store seven days a week, he’s proud of his growing business.
He also believes his grandmother, who passed away several years ago, would be proud of the new family business too.
“I think she’d be really pleased,” he said. “I think wherever she is she’d be happy because I feel like she blesses us every day.”