"Mercado is a place for start-ups and small business owners so start their business is a free rent space, and free utility space so they can start their businesses without paying any rent," said Carlos Bosques of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
Mercado Del Pueblo is located at Division and Rockwell, in the heart of Humboldt Park's Puerto Rican community. The Puerto Rican Cultural Center turned an old laundromat into a vendor hub. Not only are utilities free, but business owners are guided on how to grow their businesses into storefronts.
Currently, the Mercado is home to 17 vendors, who are all people of color.
"I'm surprised that this kind of service sits in the city," said Alejandra Aranda, one of the vendors at the Mercado Del Pueblo.
Aranda is a craftsmen who lost her job at O'Hare airport this year due to the pandemic. She said she turned to her artistic skills to get by.
Sachayra Cintron started up her Puerto Rican pastry business this year to make extra cash. Citron said the Mercado has helped spread the name of her business already.
"I think it's important because it gives us that extra help and boost to help us become successful in what we want to do," said Cintron.
Bosques said the Mercado is a direct response to the pandemic, and that the Puerto Rican Cultural Center wanted to help small business owners of color expand their trades.
"Right now Latino communities, Africa American communities are underserved, so we are trying to provide services that they need right now to start their businesses," said Bosques.
The Mercado Del Pueblo had its grand opening earlier in February. They are open Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Yukare Nakayama is a Community Journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She tells stories on the West Side of the city in neighborhoods like Pilsen, Little Village, North Lawndale and Austin. Nakayama also covers the north shore suburbs such as Highland Park and Highwood. If you have a story to share in these neighborhoods, send an email to Yukare.X.Nakayama@abc.com