Like many Latino businesses in Longmont, Tutti Fruitti is small and seemingly off the beaten path. After opening just before the pandemic and struggling with COVID-19 closures, the Mexican ice cream shop is participating in Boulder County’s first Latino Business month in hopes of becoming better known.
Tucked into the Old Town Marketplace at 332 Main St., Tutti Frutti is owned by Arely Tinoco, who is living her childhood dream of running an ice cream shop. While Tinoco always wanted to own an ice cream shop, the dream became more real when her cousin, who lives in Burlington, Co. began making homemade ice cream — which the shop purchases.
Like all businesses, Tutti Frutti struggled through the pandemic. There were times when there simply was not enough business to keep the doors open, causing the second closure for the business, Tinoco said.
Tinoco believes some of the reasons for the lack of patrons visiting her shop had less to do with the pandemic and more to do with the lack of publicity.
Ticono’s shop is not the only Longmont Latino business struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. As such, the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Boulder County decided to line up Latino Business Month in Longmont to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month.
The chamber hopes to help these businesses “increase sales, generate revenue, increase visibility and show the value our Latino businesses bring to our community,” said Berenice Garcia Tellez, city of Longmont economic sustainability specialist and Latino Chamber vice-chair.
“All businesses were impacted by COVID, however, data shows the most impacted were businesses of color. This is why we ask the community to support them, and also to get to know the diversity of our businesses … It’s an opportunity to show their value and support them,” Garcia Tellez said.
Beginning Sept. 15, as a part of Latino Business Month, participating Latino-owned businesses will offer stamps to patrons who visit as part of the chamber’s Latino Passport program. After collecting 7 stamps from any of the, currently, 39 participating businesses, patrons can snap a photo of their passport and email that to firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered into a drawing for one of four $50 gift cards.
Tutti Frutti is one business participating in the passport program in which Ticono will offer a buy-two-get-one-free deal on her rolled ice cream — which she said is the only local place to find them, that she knows of.
Many of these businesses also will make a special appearance at the Latino Chamber’s Fiesta and Food Trucks Kickoff event on Sept. 18 at Roosevelt Park. At this celebration of business, familia and culture, patrons can begin filling up passports while learning more about local Latino-owned businesses.
In addition to encouraging patrons to visit these establishments, the Latino Chamber is also hosting two series to help potential and current business owners develop and grow.
The first series begins Sept. 1 and is titled the Due Diligence to open a Successful Business Workshop. This workshop series offers a guide of things to consider before an entrepreneur launches a business.
The workshop is free and includes help in deciding what type of business structure is the right one, how to navigate public health inspections, saving on taxes and even how to protect one’s business from fraud.
Although the series will be delivered in Spanish, English interpretation will be available for all to join, Garcia Tellez said.
The second series will be webinars hosted by the Boulder Small Business Development Center. The dates for these have yet to be determined but will discuss important topics for small businesses.
Overall, the Latino Chamber hopes Latino-owned businesses are able to learn more and be able to continue to grow in the Longmont community while at the same time helping the community understand the value of Latino-owned businesses, Garcia Tellez said.
“In my opinion, the value that Latino businesses offer to the community is that they also contribute to the gross economic product of Boulder County … and we need to acknowledge that. They also hire a local workforce, generating jobs … Sometimes I feel it is overlooked and not celebrated, Garia Tellez said.
All of the Latino Business Month events are open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend.
“We want to bridge the gap,” Garcia Tellez said, adding that she hopes everyone in Longmont will consider utilizing the services of Latino-owned businesses.
There is still room for more businesses to join, register here.
Update: Then number of stamps and gift cards recently changed.