SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month across the United States. We are bringing you a story of a young businesswoman who is keeping her family business thriving.
Leslie’s Supermarket is a place that could be considered a hidden gem in Springfield. It’s more than just a grocery store – it is a hub for the Hispanic community in the area.
Tucked away in a shopping center near the corner of Glenstone and St. Louis street, the Supermarket is owned by Anabel and Rueben Flores, who opened the business about 12 years ago. It’s named after their daughter – Leslie.
“I’m their only child, my parents’ only child. My mom, she always says her biggest love is me, so I’m going to name it after, well, my daughter,” says Leslie Flores. “I was, I think, eight at the time. As a child, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so happy!”
Leslie’s parents, both from Mexico, have been in the U.S. for about 30 years. Just 18 years old, Leslie graduated from Central High School last Spring.
She is more than just the business’s namesake: Leslie is one of their most important employees and has been for years.
“I’ve been working with them for as long as I can remember. When I was little, it would be little things like helping restock things and stuff like that,” Flores says.
“I was in class, and my parents would call me like, ‘Leslie, this is happening, can you please help us?’ Usually, translate or something like that. I’d leave class for a bit to take a call, but then I’d get back to it. I feel like it was stressful at times, but I made it through high school.”
While some people view going shopping as a routine errand, Leslie’s Supermarket strives to be something else.
“It’s an experience coming in here. People can have a little bit of their own home here in the United States,” says Flores.
What may look like a grocery store from outside – is a doorway into a different culture.
“A lot of Hispanics that come to the United States for the first time don’t know English, and they come here a lot to be able to speak their own language. We just love being able to show people a little bit of our culture,” says Flores.
While Leslie is working to keep her family business thriving, she does have other aspirations of her own. College is on the list.
Thanks to her family, Leslie has a head start.
“I want to study business. I can’t imagine a life where we hadn’t had the store. It’s been a great journey with them,” says Flores.
If you’d like to stop in and get your own taste of culture, Leslie’s Mexican Supermarket is open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day, and open until 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.