A former yard maintenance worker has opened Mexican Candies & Groceries in Ashland.

A former yard maintenance worker has opened Mexican Candies & Groceries in Ashland.

Miguel Urrutia opened the 200-square-foot store at the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Walker Avenue.

"There are a lot of others doing yard maintenance now," Urrutia said. "I'd been thinking about opening a store for seven years and I was waiting for something like that to happen. I told my wife, 'That's it — let's do it.' "

Though small, the store is packed to the rafters with groceries, cooking supplies, spices, frozen snacks, beans, lard, vegetable oil, fruit and birthday supplies, including a variety of festive pinatas.

A large burlap bag of 3-foot cinnamon sticks sits in a corner, and a new refrigerator dominates one wall.

People are dropping by with requests for products they aren't able to track down at other stores. Many of his Guatemalan patrons, for examples, are looking for special fruit: jocotes, nances, pacayas. Other people have special candies they want. The non-Hispanics seem to be drawn to the frozen snack section.

"It looks like American people buy more ice cream than Hispanics," Urrutia said with a smile. "Some people have special candies they like and we can get that for them."

The shop also offers a service for people to send funds back to their families in other countries, a common practice in many Hispanic communities.

Urrutia has lived in the Rogue Valley for about seven years, the past five years in Ashland. He and his family live in the quiet mobile home park next to the shop.

Urrutia plans to remodel the basement, which will nearly double the space available for the shop, and use the cool space for soft drinks and fresh fruits and vegetables. He also plans to sell flowers.

For information on Mexican Candies & Groceries, call 201-0384.

— Ashland Daily Tidings