Hispanic Population on the Rise

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

With 36 million people, the Hispanic population is the fastest growing minority in the U.S. We took a look at the effect the growing population is having on Valley stores.

Myriam Vazquez is an owner of the La Colotlense Grocery in Harrisonburg. She sees the Hispanic population in the Valley skyrocketing.

"We have a lot of people that come to the store, which is having one year," says Vazquez. "Slowly it's more and more."

And the numbers back her up. Hispanics made up 8.8-percent of Harrisonburg's population during the 2000 census, up more than seven-percent from 1990. Many are employed at the various poultry farms around the Valley. Vazquez says the main problem for Hispanics in the area is the language barrier.

"There is not too many people that speak Spanish in here." says Vazquez. "Not too many American people speak Spanish or try to learn Spanish. Plus the Spanish people don't learn English.

Red Front Grocery is trying to keep up. They attempt to have a Spanish speaking employee around at all times. But they still have problems.

"There's just certain things that aren't that easy to understand," says John Garber, a Red Front manager. "If someone's writing a check and you need a certain form of ID.”

Garber says bilingual packaging has gone a long way in helping Hispanics shop at his store. And he says some products that weren't popular before are now flying off the shelves.

"It's just been a good mix of things we've accumulated over the years from customer requests where they've been out of the country and tried it or an immigrant to the area comes in and asks for a certain item from their country," says Garber.

Vazquez believes more Hispanics in the area would learn English if given the chance.

But she says she only knows of one school in Dayton where they teach it to adults.


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