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La Guadalupana reflects lives of Baltimore's Hispanic community

Step into this grocery store, and you feel as if you have entered in a foreign tropical land. Even the Cokes here are sold in glass bottles, as they are in Mexico.

At the entrance are big plantains welcoming customers. On the left is a small restaurant serving authentic Mexican home-style dishes. On the right is a grocery store with everything you need from vegetables to canned food to detergent to fresh meat.

At a cashier counter is Cristobalina Ramos, the mother of six children, busily taking care of her customers. The daughters prepares food for the restaurant. David, a son, chats with customers. Abelina, an American-born daughter, has just come back from school to help the store.

La Guadalupana, located on Eastern Avenue at Fells Point, is one of those family-owned businesses popular among immigrants. Juan and Cristobalina Ramos, the parents and co-owners of La Guadalupana, are originally from Puebla, Mexico. The family had a small grocery store similar to La Guadalupana in New York City. Seeking a better business opportunity, they came to Baltimore to set up a similar business in Fells Point. They liked the quieter neighborhood and decided to move here to start a new business.

They opened the business in 1992 on Eastern Avenue two blocks away from the current location. La Guadalupana moved its location in 1996, and the children came to Baltimore to help their parents. The family lives two blocks away from the store.

La Guadalupana sells a little bit of everything. Vegetables are among the best selling items that have been appealing to customers. "We sell vegetables that you couldn't find in any grocery stores like nobale, guaje, mamei... And we're also known for some of the best plantains," says Abelina.

Aside from unique food and drinks, the store also sells a wide selection of Hispanic CDs, videos, magazines and numerous caps of professional soccer teams from different countries.

In the restaurant, carne asada , or Mexican-style roast beef, is the most popular dish here.

Although Abelina's younger siblings are still playing rather than helping their parents, every family member is involved in the business.

"I want to go to college for education," Abelina talks about her dream to become a teacher. "I'm helping out [the store] but I also have to look up for my future."

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