Where It All Began
Our story began in El Salvador. Despite its gorgeous coast lines and famous beaches, our beloved home fell into civil war, and the place we had grown up loving was no longer safe. Escaping the war and moving to Canada as children provided us with a new environment that allowed us to grow up in a safe space, away from the fear of violence back home.
While we missed our home country, we took solace in our new home of Montreal, a city full of diverse cultures, beliefs, experiences, and the inspiration that fueled our dreams of one day opening our own business. We found a supportive community with new friends from all over Latin American – México, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Peru, to name a few. Being able to be open about missing our native lands allowed us to bond with our new Latin-Canadian friends and made us all appreciate our cultures more than ever.
Sunset from El Salvador
This ability to celebrate our traditions and share them with one another allowed us to better understand the subtle differences between each of our countries and immerse ourselves in new traditions. Together, we discovered new foods and meals that we hadn’t experienced in El Salvador, which played a major role in our decision-making when choosing what products to look for when we eventually opened our own store. Over time, however, we noticed a limited selection of the traditional Latin American products every Latino family needs to prepare our traditional dishes. And so, our initial inspiration to combine our dream of starting a business and our love for sharing our culture with others was born.
While we had been dreaming of starting our own female-led business for many years, life always found a way to throw obstacles in our path from finances to time to location and more. And of course, our biggest “obstacles” turned out to be our biggest blessings: having beautiful children. Wanting to dedicate our time and resources to our growing families, we decided to stay home with our kids, even though doing so required putting our dreams on pause. As our children played around us, and we continued to search for our favorite ingredients across the city and the internet, we still talked about “One day…” and “What if…” But at the time, supporting our families had to come first.
As our kids grew up and the possibility of our distant dreams grew closer, we decided to take a leap of faith and begin the work to open our dream business – despite having no previous experience in the business world. While our decision to be stay-at-home mothers provided so many blessings in our lives, moving from Montreal to Ottawa provided the catalyst of change we needed. We had some things to catch up on as business founders, but we were more eager than ever to learn everything there was to know about running our own store in our new city surrounded by new friends and new opportunities. If there’s one thing we’ve always believed in, it is that passion can supersede anything in our way, and we got to work.
So, we found a space and took on the manual labor ourselves, refinishing the floors, preparing a clean and inviting space for our future customers, and turning a bland storefront into a vibrant and colorful space that we felt best displayed our heritage. We threw ourselves into the work, and Bienvenidos, our family-run Latin market, was born.
Store Opened 2017, Ottawa, Canada
We’re now honored to be the space that we wished for growing up – a community where we could find all the tastes and feelings of home, a place to speak our language, and somewhere we could display one of our greatest passions: sharing our culture with others. As Bienvenidos grew, we included more and more ingredients so that any Latin American might find familiar products on our shelves.
Thanks to our client’s suggestions, we stock products that have their roots in a variety of vibrant countries from Mexico to Colombia to Argentina to Peru and to Spain! One of our missions at Bienvenidos is to supply that “taste of home.” So, if we don’t carry an item, we do our best to find that product our shoppers loved from back home.
We are grateful that our Canadian customers also enjoy visiting our store and we absolutely love to help our clients who wish to practice their Spanish and craft creative, international cuisine. We have firsthand experience learning a new language and, as mothers, we know the value of delicious (and easy!) meals. We love growing alongside our community and cherish the memories we make with our shoppers.
The Online Store
As our world becomes ever more virtual, we know our next step is to take our store online. This idea presented a whole new set of challenges, but it’s true that Latina women always find a way. As we continue to launch new products online, we have made a commitment to our expanding clientele to keep our open and client-friendly focus that exists in our physical store present in our new online space. We are incredibly excited by the opportunity to not only reach more of our surrounding community, but more of the world, by offering delicious, authentic ingredients and a taste of our Latin hospitality.
Our Online Version of Bienvenidos Latin Market
We hope you enjoy the online version of our Latin grocery store and that you’ll visit our physical store if you're ever in Ottawa. You’re sure to get a big “Bienvenidos!” from us.
Love, the sisters that dreamed together, the mothers who continue to love with their whole hearts, and the Latina women who never gave up...
Patricia, Josefina, Doris