Richmond’s mercado nuevo


A new kind of farmer’s market has set up shop on the Southside.

La Plaza Latino Market opened two weeks ago in the Broad Rock Sports Complex at the corner of Broad Rock Boulevard and Warwick Road.

The market is serving up Latin food, fruit, produce and crafts on Saturdays. But Teddy Elliot, an organizer of the event, said La Plaza won’t just be for stuffing your face.

“We’ll have dance classes and sports as well,” Elliot said.

The Merchants Club of Virginia, a local organization made up of Latino business owners, launched the market Apr. 14.

“We’re trying to promote local Latino businesses and encourage entrepreneurship,” Elliot said. “This will be a platform for them to get started.”

Vendors pay $20 to $40 for a space at the market, and Elliot said she has about 25 vendors, including 10 food trucks, eight fruit stands and a handful of entrepreneurs selling everything from dolls to tapestries.

Guatemalan restaurant El Quetzal on Broad Rock Boulevard and Kenn-Tico, a Cuban bar and grill on West Grace Street, are schlepping food carts to the market.

The market held a Zumba and kickboxing class the past three weekends, and Elliot said the Merchant’s Club plans to have free salsa classes for the public.

“It’s a great way for people starting their own business to promote themselves,” she said.

La Plaza Latino Market has also set up Copa Liberatadores de Richmond, an organization of about 30 to 40 soccer leagues to play at the market.

Sacred Heart Center, a nonprofit in Manchester that works with the Hispanic community, is providing a shuttle to and from the markets.

“We go to the Town and Country apartments and Southwood apartments to make the market available to more people in the community,” said Mary Wickham, executive director of Sacred Heart.

Wickham said Sacred Heart also recently opened a kitchen inside the center for business owners to cook food to bring to the market.

Along with the nonprofit, the Enrichmond Foundation, the Storefront for Community Design and SunTrust Bank are helping to fund the venture. The groups have set up “Friends of La Plaza” to accept donations of materials, equipment and money. The city is renting the space to the club to host the market.

Elliot said the Merchant’s Club, which launched in July, started planning for the market in December.

“There are a lot of Latino stores, but nothing like this in the area,” she said. “We thought this would be the perfect location, the Southside, since there’s a large concentration of Latinos in that area.”

The market will run through the middle of October.


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Charleen McManus
Charleen McManus
8 years ago

I went to the market on 4/28. There were only about five vendors set up, which was a little disappointing. However, the vendors were extremely friendly and helpful, indentifying the various fruits and vegetables, and explaining how to prepare them.

Spencer L. Turner
Spencer L. Turner
8 years ago

We just wanted I add that the Virginia Center for Latin American Art (VACLAA) has been at two of the three market days and has been doing collaborative art projects with the children who are there. This week we will sponsor a local Latino Artist in the site.

Emily Sumner
Emily Sumner
8 years ago

I am a member of the Merchant’s Club, which is one of the organizations organizing the market. This is a tremendous undertaking, and while we may not have 50 vendors overnight, we are adding more every week. Further, it’s unlike anything else in Richmond! Aside from the profusion of Latino culture with the music, salsa, Zumba, artisan crafts, etc, as Charleen said, the vendors are very helpful in sharing their expertise about how to best prepare their produce, much of which is typical of Latino dishes. Finally, this is an outlet of fresh, whole foods at reasonable prices in an… Read more »

patrick Dunn
patrick Dunn
7 years ago

I produce stories about farming in Virginia for the Va. Farm Bureau’s show Real Virginia. If you could send me some contact info for any latino farmers that bring stuff to the market I would appreciate it greatly!