Photo: Jacqueline Garcia/La Opinion/Impremedia
Every week Edwin Chavez prepares to sell pupusas at different South Los Angeles Farmers Markets including Wilmington on Tuesdays and Harbor City on Wednesdays. The traveling business “Edwin Pupusas” has become one of the favorites to visit at these events.
Its menu offers from the traditional loroco, chorizo or beans and cheese pupusas to vegetarian ones such as mushrooms, vegetables and spinach. These delicious pupusas can be accompanied by delicious fresh waters with natural flavors such as watermelon, mango, fruit salad, strawberry or the healthy green water; a mixture of lemon with mint and cucumber and without sugar.
Chavez is glad that he can now sell his product again since he, like millions of others, suffered too much from the stay-at-home order due to the covid-19 pandemic that began in 2020.
“I started in 2016 and we were doing very well but we were left at zero when they closed everything. First we thought it would be two weeks, then months passed, and then a year. It was very difficult,” she explained.
The 41-year-old Salvadoran said that he came to the United States in 2000 and originally settled in the state of Kansas where he worked in meat factories. However, he had passed through California and liked it better. So four years later he decided to come back and started working for a family selling fruit at the farmers markets in Torrance and Redondo Beach.
“I worked selling fruit that they brought from Fresno,” Chavez said. “After 11 years of work, the fruit bosses sold the ranch because they said it was no longer producing and they left eight families unemployed.”
During this time Chavez was also working part-time in a pupusa business with some acquaintances. So when he lost his job without much hesitation he decided to start his own.
“I started looking for my means and with the help of some acquaintances I knew how to get the permits and I got advice,” said Chavez. “I have never sold on the street only at the Farmers Market.”
Chavez said that the business, although not large, has helped him survive and pay one or two employees when necessary.
His children motivate him
Chavez is a single father. His children are 17, 16 and 14 years old, all born in the United States. He acknowledged that being the only parent 24/7 is very difficult. The need to get ahead was not only for his benefit but also for his children. He said that his youngest son was 6 months old when he took care of the three of them. Over time, the family of four men grew closer.
“Friends always tell me, ‘I don’t know how you did it,’ and I just say depriving myself of many things to give them,” Chavez said.
The family lives in Wilmington and Chavéz has always looked for jobs that are close by so he can take care of his children’s needs, like school, when needed.
He acknowledged that when the covid-19 pandemic hit, it was terrifying for him to plan how he was going to continue to support his children.
“One says that health comes first, but also if you don’t work you don’t survive,” Chavez said.
For the first time since arriving from El Salvador, he was forced to apply for unemployment assistance from the United States. He filled out the necessary documents and thus managed to keep the home for his children during the worst moments of the pandemic.
Employee and employer
Chavez said that since the reopening of the economy began again he has been ready to work either in his business or in similar businesses with friends.
“It just so happens that they are different days, different cities and that way one settles in and gets ready for the week,” Chavez said.
He plans that as the reopening improves, he will incorporate more outdoor markets to add more days to his week.
He said that seeing his present compared to his past when the covid-19 pandemic began, he feels mixed emotions because he did not imagine everything he was going to experience.
“Now I think that the best thing one can do is save because when something like that comes to you, everything goes away again, even what you don’t have,” Chavez stressed.
You can find Edwin Pupusas every Tuesday at the Wilmington Farmers Market located at the Providence Wellness Center located at 470 Hawaiian Ave. Wilmington, CA 90744.