The Colima Market, located on Northeast Greenwood Avenue, is a traditional Mexican market run by the Chavez family that provides authentic Mexican and Central American goods to Bend. Many goods come directly from Mexico, and the Colima Market is one of the only places in Central Oregon where you can find them. The market includes a bakery where pan dulce (sweet Mexican bread) and hand-made tortillas are made fresh daily, along with a meat and dairy section that includes chorizo, queso fresco and other Mexican ingredients; the very same ingredients that are used in the owner’s brother’s food truck, El Taquero, among at other restaurants in Bend. The Colima Market was originally owned by a family from Colima, Mexico. They retired about eight years ago and sold the market to their friends, the Chávez family, who are originally from Guerrero, Mexico. The daughter in the Chávez family, Yamely Chávez Kennedy, is the current owner and manager of the Colima Market and oversees day to day operations.
How did your family go from living in Guerrero, Mexico to owning a small business in Bend, Oregon?
Poverty was the main reason my dad decided to come to America twenty-four years ago. My father had a very sad and difficult childhood where he suffered from homelessness and near-starvation. He came to America to provide for his children a better, safer future than what he had. We lived in California for eight years and then moved to Oregon after we came up to visit the state and immediately fell in love with it. My parents worked very hard and eventually got the opportunity to buy a small Mexican store in Madras, Oregon and that’s how we started. Then, the opportunity came up to expand into Bend when our friends put the Colima Market up for sale. We have owned and operated the market in the eight years since then.
How has your business been received by the community, and have there been any challenges along the way?
In general, we receive more positive feedback than negative. We are so grateful and fortunate to be a part of a community that, for the most part, supports our culture. Coming from Mexico to California to Oregon was definitely hard to adjust to at first; we were missing our culture and traditions. This is why we focus on bringing more of that into our stores so we can bring a part of Mexico to our customers and the entire community.
What plans do you have for the Colima Market in the future?
We’re concerned about competition from bigger stores, but we hope to still be in business ten years from now! We hope our customers keep supporting us even if big corporations come in. We are working very hard as a family to keep expanding and remodeling our little store, to add more departments and more authentic Mexican goods. We plan on expanding the bakery, meats and dairy section to provide a higher quantity of quality goods to our customers. We are dreaming big! We hope to one day become as big as Safeway or Fred Meyer, but Mexican style.