Made in Racine: Mexican candy store owners shares traditions, makes custom piñatas

Made in Racine: Mexican candy store owners shares traditions, makes custom piñatas

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Mexican candy store in Racine is earning recognition for its sweet and spicy treats and custom-made piñatas.

"Me, my wife, and the family, we noticed that we didn't have a candy store right here in Racine, and then said, 'Why don't we open a candy store?' and everybody said, 'Oh that's a good idea,'" Benito Cruz said.

Cruz opened La Oaxaqueña Dulces & Botanas last Summer after his wife's sewing business outgrew the building at 1405 Lathrop Ave. Cruz quickly transformed it into his own vibrant space that represents who they are: Oaxaqueños.

"[We thought] why not, 'La Oaxaqueña'? Because we are from Oaxaca state in Mexico," Cruz explained

His daughter Anahi is one of his biggest supporters and often promotes the store on social media to get customers in the door.

"We're very, very proud Oaxaqueños, let me tell you. Everything we do, we're always bringing up Oaxaca," Anahi Cruz said. "All the little color on the railings, all the little details, even like the logo itself, [my dad] drew that logo, he picked the color for that logo."

While the sweet and often spicy candies are Made in Mexico, the piñatas that line every inch of the ceiling are Made in Racine by Cruz himself.

"The customers would come in and request different kinds of pinatas. Personal piñatas and I said, 'I need to start doing piñatas because the customers need it. The customers requested piñatas," he explained. "It's very fun because you need to be creative to do it."

Cruz had never made a piñata before, but his background made this unexpected business venture easier for him.

"I went to school for architecture. I started architecture in Mexico," Cruz said. "I had my own company in Mexico."

To show his appreciation, Cruz made a custom CBS 58 piñata for our newsroom.

"This was my daughter's idea. She said, 'Why don't we make a pinata for CBS 58 News,' and I said, 'I can do it!'" he explained.

No matter the request, he will glue and cut until the piñata is picture-perfect.

"What does it feel like for you when you give the customer the piñata?" CBS 58 Sunday Morning reporter Stephanie Rodriguez asked.

"Wow. I feel very happy because when the customer comes and picks up the piñata, they have a big smile when they see the piñata because of the shape, the color and everything, they like it," Cruz said.

While Cruz shares his Mexican traditions with his community, he is also living the American Dream.

"It makes you realize you can honestly do anything," Anahi Cruz said. "You put your mind to it, you put ambition to it, persistence, you can get it done."

For more information on La Oaxaqueña, visit their website or Facebook page.

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