Located at 670 Broadway, in Midtown, Express Latinos opened in mid December in a beautifully traditional storefront, with newly painted moldings on the exterior and a high tin ceiling inside. Owner Guido Coraizaca, a native of Ecuador, is only 25 years old, and this is his first business. He said his motivation for opening the store was to provide “a friendly business” to the many Spanish people in the area. The coffee is free, and customers are also welcome to shoot pool at the spacious table in the back without charge. An attention-getter is the automated life-size Santa jiggling in the storefront window.
Express Latinos offers a little of everything—Coraizaca said he wants to serve the many residents in the neighborhood who don’t have cars—including boxes of toy cars, dinosaurs, action figures, and dolls; dried beans, corn flour, mayonnaise, chips, cans of coconut juice, tortillas, bags of thyme and other spices; jeans, sweat shirts, and women’s tops; and Mary Kay cosmetics and watches. Nextel phone cards, belts and backpacks are displayed on the wall behind the counter. The prices are extremely reasonable with a soda costing 75 cents, men’s work jeans selling for $15, and a bag of dried chili peppers selling for $1.75. On the table next to the coffee urn is a pan of homemade tamales—there is a choice of spicy or sweet—for $1.50 each.
The store is open seven days a week, from 5 am to 10 pm. “My father says if you don’t work seven days a week when you’re young, in the future you’ll have to keep working, when you’re old,” he said.
Currently residing on Smith Street, Coraizaca, who is originally from Quito, lived six years in Corona, Queens. Compared to Queens, Kingston “is nice,” he said. “You’ve got space and can park a car here.” Plus, there’s plenty of opportunity. “If you use your brain, you can make money here. But you have to work hard,” he said.