Hispanic community of Kewaunee County gets its first convenience store
CASCO – At first glance, the shop at 324 Main St. seems like one of those old-fashioned, mom-and-pop grocery stores found in small communities across the country.
It is — but it also offers a new and different angle for Kewaunee County.
Ernesto Perez opened the El Dorado Express convenience store in April. Offering a limited selection of Mexican and American grocery items, fresh produce, health and beauty goods, beer and liquor, it is the first and only store of its type catering to the local Hispanic population in Kewaunee County.
If Casco, or Kewaunee County for that matter, seems a strange place to open a market aimed at Hispanics — the population of that demographic was estimated at about 630 in 2017, 3.1 percent of the county's total population of 20,445 — Perez said a need definitely exists.
"Most of the Hispanic community here doesn't want to travel to Green Bay (to shop for groceries and essentials)," Perez said. "I have friends who told me about this place, this county, that they need a store here."
El Dorado's inventory is mostly essential items, and it also works with several money transfer companies, which employee Edith Garcia said is important to some of the its customers.
Perez said about 90 percent of his customers are Hispanic, including a number from Central America.
"Due to Kewaunee County being farmland, there are a lot of working farmers, a lot of people who work there, who are Hispanic," he said. "That can help us keep the business going as they spread the word."
The word about the store apparently has spread, even outside the county lines. Perez said the store sees "a lot" of customers from Forestville and Sturgeon Bay in Door County — which does not have a Hispanic goods store —and Two Rivers in Manitowoc County.
Also helping spread the word is the store's neighbor — Dos Caminos, a restaurant serving authentic Mexican food at 408 Main St., open about two years and likewise the only Mexican restaurant in the county.
"I've told some people to go there, and they send people to me here," Perez said.
Perez emigrated to California from his native Mexico in 1988. He moved to Green Bay in 1995, where he has owned the El Dorado Liquor Store on Abrams Street for 16 years. He said he worked as a laborer until he bought the Green Bay store and basically learned all about retail stores on the fly.
"I never had experience working with the business," Perez said. "I learned through opening the store … through experience."
Thus far, Perez said business in Casco is good and getting better.
"It's going good. Every month, it's going up," he said.
El Dorado Express is at 324 Main St. (State 54), Casco. It is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call 920-837-2520 or visit the "El Dorado Express" Facebook page.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Hispanic community of Kewaunee County gets its first convenience store