Latin vendors at La Cosecha have seen more customers and higher sales for their small businesses during the Hispanic heritage celebrations this month in NoMa’s Union Market.
The ongoing celebrations started on Sept. 15 and have offered activities, food, and festivities related to the Latino culture for Hispanic and non-Hispanic members of the community and visitors.
“Last week we actually had our best week since the pandemic started,” Giuseppe Lanzone, co-owner of the food vendor Peruvian Brothers, said about sales during the pandemic. “We literally just saw the volume of the people coming in La Cosecha increase, we saw an increase on our online orders, we saw more families coming in,” Lazone said.
Businesses in La Cosecha have seen better times during the Hispanic celebrations than in the first few months of the pandemic.
The tenants have contributed to the successful month by sponsoring activities like chocolate decorating and having alpacas outside of the market.
“It’s been really wonderful to see all the partners [the vendors] collaborating, cross collaborating, finding ways to be creative and to work together,” Sara Beckstead, EDENS’ director of community experience, said.
An example of this was that customers that made a purchase in the boutique Nova Bossa received a second free drink offer in the market’s bar, Serenata.
The organizers started planning the celebration six months ago, before the pandemic, and had to make some changes to festivities.
La Cosecha integrated activities like virtual storytime and take-home food options.
Along with receiving Hispanic clients that came to celebrate their heritage, they have also seen non-Hispanic speaking clients that have enjoyed the food and music.
“This is my first time setting an outdoor eatery,” Shahana Islam said about going outside since the pandemic started. Islam knew about the activity from a friend, Ivelina Erinina, who is a NoMa resident.
During the pandemic, Arcay Chocolates changed from selling sweets in a cart to a permanent space in the Latin market. Owner Annabel Arcay was optimistic about expanding her business, telling The Wash, “I’m pretty sure this is gonna be a success.”
According to a 2020 State of the Business Report, released by the D.C. Policy Center, there was a 40 percent increase in business applications compared to last year in July and mid-August.
That’s after a report that 28 percent of Washington D.C.’s small businesses were closed by July.
“While many businesses are closed and losing revenue, entrepreneurial activity has not decreased,” said the published article in the D.C. Policy Center site.
La Cosecha, which opened in September 2019, currently has 12 businesses that vary between stores and food vendors from different Latin American countries like El Salvador, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela, among others.
The vendors and the owners of La Cosecha, have promoted the Hispanic heritage celebrations through email, social media, and engagement with the embassies of the countries that are part of the market.
“Ultimately this is supporting small businesses,” Beckstead said, “it’s really just trying to get the word out and have people come and enjoy their time here.”
Beckstead said that they hope to continue doing more activities for its clients and La Cosecha will have new things to offer after the Hispanic heritage celebrations end on Oct. 15.
EDENS is the developing company that owns La Cosecha and other Union Market District locals, including Union Market itself.