Los negocios de Chico: new and old Latino-owned businesses are building community in Chico


Raymundo Sayago

Co-owner of Victory Barbershop, Reyna Mercado

Hispanic Heritage month spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. In celebrating the end of this month, The Orion wants to spotlight two Latino-owned businesses in Chico.

Victory Barbershop and Azteca Video are both located on Walnut Street. In a matter of an hour, you can get a fresh cut, cross the street and buy a variety of authentic and imported products like sombreros, botas and Mexican candy. 

Victory Barbershop opened in January.

After fulfilling all of the COVID-19 regulations for the county and state, the Mercados opened the doors to their family and Latino-owned business to the public. 

Both of the Mercados’ families are originally from the state of Michoacán, México. Having to witness their parents work laborious jobs growing up instilled a strong work ethic at a young age. 

“It’s influenced it a lot,” Reyna Mercado said. “Since I can remember my parents were always working one or two jobs. It made me very independent, causing me to start working at 14. I’m very thankful for my parents for teaching me that.” 

Reyna started cutting hair at the age of 17 and Pepe began later in 2014. The two met at barber school while attaining their barber certificates. 

Since then, they’ve been able to cultivate a community and a place where people of color can trust them with their hair. 

Co-owner of Victory Barbershop, Pepe Mercado

“That’s something that we really pride ourselves in because we know it’s important to have your hair look good,” Pepe said. “We also want to make sure when people walk in, they feel comfortable talking to us and not have to worry about a language barrier.”

Pepe shared advice for Hispanic kids who dream of one day opening their own business. 

“My advice would be just do it,” Pepe said. “You’re going to wait and then say you’re going to say next year and then next year. It’s going to be hard tomorrow and after that, so just jump into it.” 

The Mercados are creating an environment for Hispanics and Latinos to talk to one another and most importantly, to support one another. 

Fernando Reyes, owner of Azteca Video, originally arrived in the U.S. from Jalisco, México in 1981 and opened his video store in 1989 selling cassettes and VHS tapes.

Azteca Video, located on 324 Walnut St.

Over the years, the Hispanic population has grown and Reyes feels grateful for the community support. 

“I think it’s one of the most important things,” Reyes said. “They’ve been our strongest client. Back then it was younger Hispanic people who came to Chico, not for school, but for work, who would come to support.” 

However, the arrival of corporate stores in Chico has hurt businesses like Reyes’.

“The traditional business model is slowly ending day by day,” Reyes said. “A while back, it was common for someone to open a local owned business. When I first got here, there were lots of local owned pharmacies and video services who were family owned. Once the big corporations arrived, like Walmart and CVS, the local businesses began vanishing throughout the years.”

In 32 years of business, Reyes has seen one of his children graduate from Chico State. Two more are currently attending. 

Businesses like these ultimately help ease the transition for Hispanic students navigating predominantly white institutions like Chico State.

Some of the products inside of Azteca Video

Raymundo Sayago Aguilar can be reached at [email protected] or @rsayagoaguilar on Twitter.