Baldwin park – Stereotyped?

DISCUSSION TOPIC: Latino Leaders Say ‘No’ to Amigo Stores


Retail developers in the Los Angeles area are learning a valuable lesson from people like Manual Lozano, mayor of Baldwin Park. The lesson is that while it’s important to target your offering to your audience, it is even more important to actually know what they want before you pitch a new project.

Recently, Mr. Lozano and other officials from Baldwin Park listened to developers make a pitch on a new project in the community. Having studied the demographics of the area, the developers proposed a shopping center with a “Latino feel,” according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The mayor, a second-generation Mexican American, was not happy being presented with a project based on what he believes is a typecast of Baldwin Park and its citizens.

“We want what Middle America has as well,” he told the LA Times. “We like to go to nice places like Claim Jumpers, Chili’s and Applebee’s… We don’t want the fly-by-night business, the ‘amigo store,’ which they use to attract Latinos like myself.”

Some in Baldwin Park believe that the Council, made up entirely of Mexican-Americans, is ashamed of its roots.

“I was born in Mexico and raised in this country. I agree we need some change. But what they want to bring here is totally unrealistic. Applebee is good, but a Kabuki? And also a Trader Joe’s? Come on, I don’t even go to Trader Joe’s,” said Rosalva Alvarez, the owner of a beauty shop located in the area being considered for development.

Anthony Bejarano, a graduate of Georgetown University law school, is among Mr. Lozano’s allies on the Council. A fourth-generation Mexican American who speaks “very little Spanish,” he told the LA Times, “I love to go to traditional Mexican restaurants. I shop at Vallarta [supermarket], but I can’t get everything I need. At the end of the day, it’s all Mexican restaurants here. When we want Italian, when we want sushi, where do we go? If I want a pair of Kenneth Coles, I have to go to Arcadia.”

Discussion questions:  What lessons are there for developers, retailers and consumer brand marketers in the Baldwin Park experience? How quickly is acculturation taking place within Latino communities and how do marketers successfully navigate the differences in evidence in Baldwin Park?

My post:  I find it amazing that developers and retailers continue to misread the wants and desires of ethnic communities.  Just a little bit of local research and customer panel groups can provide the basics of a neighborhood’s retail desires.  Add a bit of demographic analysis and you can start formulating options.  Ultimately, retailers and developers that avoid this research in the name of cost savings pay a larger price in the end when the business fails.  The carpenter’s rule holds true:  measure twice, cut once…

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

Go to the full discussion at    


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