Central America Store adds more international flavor in downtown Marshall

MARSHALL – The intersection of Main Street and College Drive is becoming increasingly international in flavor with the recent addition of the Central America Store.

The grocery store opened Aug. 1 on Main Street and takes its place near the Italian restaurant, Bello Cucina; the Hindi Store, which offers East African fare; and Marshall Tobacco, which is owned by a Moroccan-born entrepreneur.

The store, which sells groceries native to countries such as Guatemala, Columbia and Panama, in addition to clothing and shoes, is already getting good business, said Joe Como, who owns the store along with his wife, Eva.

“A lot of people stopped in the store in July when we were setting up,” said Como.

He said people would shop at the Hindi Store and then come to his store as well.

“People come back and forth,” he said.

Eva Como is originally from Honduras and frequently translates for the Spanish-speaking community in the Marshall area. She knew that people found it difficult to find certain products locally.

“We have friends in the community with a Latin American background who would say, ‘you guys should open up a store,'” Como said.

He added that they don’t want to compete with the Mexican grocery store down the street. “We want to provide some different products.”

They decided to open a store even though neither one of them has “ever owned a business,” said Como, who will continue in his managerial position at Turkey Valley Farms.

“We’ve had a little advice here and there from business owners,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of support.”

So far, the store carries a line of Malher seasonings and other products. Malher is a Guatemalan food products and beverages company. Flour, refried beans, candy, chips and soups are among the products on the shelves.

“They are name brands that people would recognize from back home,” Como said.

There is a rack of over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin as well. In the front of the store is an assortment of clothes including jeans and girls’ dresses as well as children’s shoes and cowboy boots.

In the back of the store is a display case with Guatemalan art such as hand-made dolls and carved masks.

The store also offers services such as money transferring for people who want to send money back home.

“We’ll be a MoneyGram licensed agent by Sept. 1,” Como said. “It’s a bill-paying service, money orders…”

The store will also offer Boss Revolution, which is an international calling service.

In the near future, the Comos plan to add Asian products to their shelves and also fresh produce – ethnic fruits and vegetables. They will also offer frozen meats.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the store growing,” Como said.