KGUN 9NewsHispanic Heritage


Tucson-area Hispanic businesses find balance between culture, technology

Posted: 11:28 AM, Sep 15, 2023
Updated: 2023-09-15 16:28:14-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson's history is full of stories of Latino entrepreneurs of every generation who found a way to make their passion a success.

The list includes people, such as Jimmy Lopez, whose grandparents opened Mi Nidito on South Fourth Avenue; or Syrena Arevalo, who put Hispanic authors front-and-center in her Barrio Books store.

Barrio Books is located inside the Hotel McCoy, 720 W. Silverlake Rd.

Business leaders like Rob Elias want to help these kinds of places find a way to continue to grow, especially after the pandemic.

"We have some scar tissue left over from having all these employees and having to get rid of them," Elias said. "Let's just stick with what we've got for now and wait it out a little bit, even though I think we are far past that."

Elias said more small and medium Hispanic business owners are keeping the technologies that helped them stay afloat during a tumultuous time, but finding new ways to connect with customers and still celebrate their rich culture.

"One thing that the pandemic taught us is how to use tools that we weren't used to using before, and how to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable.," Elias said. "So long as they don't lose sight or compromise some of the things that got them to where they are."

Good Morning Tucson anchor José Zozaya talks with Rob Elias at the Mercado San Agustin, 100 South Avenida del Convento, on the west side.

One obvious example that businesses are using, Elias said, is giving customers more ways to pay through apps like Cash App, Venmo or Zelle.

"It makes those things more readily accepted and acceptable for their consumers, and even to businesses," he added. "So it has absolutely helped."

And Elias said restaurants in particular are putting their unique menus on major food delivery apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats, a new way to connect with younger customers.

José Zozaya is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Before arriving in southern Arizona, José worked in Omaha, Nebraska where he covered issues ranging from local, state and federal elections, to toxic chemical spills, and community programs impacting immigrant families. Share your story ideas and important issues with José by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.