Couple aims to make customers feel at home

suzanne dean / messenger photo Erick Toral and Estephanie Paredes hold some of the imported Mexican products they sell at their market, located in the former Anderson Drug Store in Ephraim. The ceramic figure is a Mexican coin bank.

EPHRAIM—For some time, Erick Toral and his partner Estephanie Paredes thought about getting into their own business. They socked away $10,000.

Then they saw an ad on Facebook called “Sanpete Indoor Yard Sale” for a Mexican grocery store another family had started in the former Anderson Drug Store on the northwest corner of Main and Center streets in Ephraim.

“We came, we talked to them, and that same day, we made an agreement,” Estephanie says.

The couple took over the store Feb. 23 and have been running the store since then. The hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We want our customers to feel at home, like back in Mexico,” Estephanie says.

But she quickly adds, “We want to reach out to you guys,” to all races and cultures in the community in a spirit of inclusion and acceptance.

The story behind the young couple’s purchase of a store they plan to call Pueblo Chico Market (small town market) actually goes back nearly a decade.

Erick’s uncle, Fabian Tejedes, had been working as a butcher at a grocery store in Salt Lake County when, about nine years ago, he took over a Mexican grocery store in South Salt Lake. He called it Tejedes Market.

“Business was good, so they decided to get a bigger store,” Erick says. The second store, Tejedes No. 2, located in the Glendale neighborhood of Salt Lake City, has been operating five to six years.

Erick’s parents, as well as Erick and Estephanie, have worked for the business. So the couple has significant experience in the type of business they are operating in Ephraim.

Latinos in Sanpete County should feel at home in the store not just because Erick and Estephanie speak Spanish, but also because of the spectrum of products the store imports from Mexico or buys from Mexican-owned Utah businesses.

The shelves and cooler in their store are stocked with Mexican candy, a wide variety of Mexican soda pops, and imported canned goods such as beans, chili and salsa.

They also have a limited number of fruits and vegetables ranging from cactus leaves to papayas.

 But what sets their store apart, they say, is their meat.

They have homemade chorizo, a spicy pork sausage that comes in long strips wound into rings. Chorizo is served with eggs for breakfast, mixed with potatoes for lunch or dinner, or cut into small lengths and grilled on a barbecue.

They sell beef and chicken fajitas ready to eat.

If you want to make tacos, they can sell you tortillas, pork rinds, avocado and cheese. One of their cheeses is Queso Fresco, a homemade white cheese sold in round blocks. 

They have other cuts of beef and pork you can take home and put right in the fry pan or on the grill.

Another important draw is their money service, which enables people to send money to Mexico and other countries.

Erick and Estephanie, who are getting married this month, are parents of two children, Leah, 7, and Jorge, 3.

They say it was a struggle to find housing in the tight market in Ephraim. The best they could find was a one-bedroom basement apartment.

“We had to take it or we had nowhere else to go,” Paredes says.

For now, Erick spends some days in Salt Lake County, where he has also has a job as a diesel mechanic.