Know Your Mom and Pop: La Tiendita and Piñata Center

The Piñata Center offers genuine Guatemalan products right in he heart of Providence

necklacePeople are obsessed with combining things. Whether it’s phones and music players, peanut butter and fluff, or anything having to do with bacon and something else (bandages, air fresheners, socks … ), people are always looking to incorporate two things. Go to 300 Broadway in Providence and there will be a store combination that might just blow your mind with its creativity and ability to reach a wide audience. The Piñata Center opened its doors in 2009 and offers traditional piñatas made in Guatemala. The piñatas were selling well enough when owner Sussy DeLeon decided to start selling other products from Guatemala. That soon morphed into the addition of La Tiendita Boutique, which offers a variety of 100% handmade Guatemalan products.

Piñatas are a staple at children’s parties because it’s a simple activity (unless you’re the one holding the piñata while trying not to get hit by the swinger) that everyone enjoys. The idea of The Piñata Center came about because DeLeon felt there was a lack of traditional piñatas from Central America. The piñatas are handmade in Guatemala and are shaped using wire, newspaper and tissues. This ensures that they are light, easy to break and hold a lot of candy.

As The Piñata Center gained momentum, DeLeon started bringing other products from Guatemala, including handbags, decorative pillows and jewelry. Now with more than 2,000 products, La Tiendita serves to give Rhode Islanders a unique shopping experience, which has paid off handsomely. According to team members Ms. Mayra Rivera and Ms. Vilma Cortez, word-of-mouth has been a strong ally when marketing both shops.

“Most of our customers are excited and happy with their piñatas and are happy to let people know about our store,” Rivera said. “Most people walk in expecting a party store and are shocked to see that we offer much more than that,” she added about the diversity of the products.

In addition to customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth, both stores use social media to help spread the word, especially Facebook and Instagram. A quick visit to The Pinata Center’s website turns into an epic website visit, with over 100 brightly colored piñatas to look at. They also are available for workshops throughout the state, which helps spread their name.

Like the products, there are a wide range of consumers who visit both shops. Whether a young student looking for a leather messenger bag or a grandmother buying artisan coffee, they leave satisfied. Artists and fashion designers have bought items and added them to their projects. Many become repeat customers, returning to brag that the person they bought a gift for was impressed. Others come back just to continue to browse. “It’s hard to take in all of our products in just one visit,” Rivera says.

More than a store, the Piñata Center and La Tiendita are a culture. This is a business that is true to its roots, keeping things traditional, bringing a bit of their heritage to this area. “What binds the stores together is our goal to provide the best Guatemala Handmade products,” Rivera says.

They purchase and then sell products from different regions of Guatemala, which helps give back to the country while supporting our local economy. It’s just one other combination that exists in this diverse establishment.

The Piñata Center and La Tiendita are located at 300 Broadway in Providence. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Check them out online at pinatacenter.com and guatemalafinehandcrafts.com. Call 401-421-5180 for further information.

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