The 20 year old Panadería in the “Virgil Village” community has now gotten an extension for its relocation. At least until December, families in our community can continue to quench their appetites with Doña Elvia’s fresh pan dulce, hot tamales, and bolillos con huevos.
It’s a key victory for the pueblo that comprises the ole neighborhood, but now with the extension secured, some of us are left wondering: might the Panadería be able to simply stay after all?
The fact of the matter is that maintaining a small business like Super Pan in cities like Los Angeles is increasingly difficult. While gentrification in the community compounds the trouble involved in maintaining the bakery’s “appeal” over the years, even if the buzz-word was removed from the equation, rising inflation and the cost of living since the bakery’s opening in the early 2000’s without an increase in backing or security for its services continue to undermine any effort to keep its place in the community.
I think of another small place close to heart, in Mama’s caseta, which is less than four blocks north of Super Pan on Santa Monica boulevard. In over sixteen years in the vecindad, regardless of whether the stand’s revistas and literatura turn a profit or not, mom is required to pay insurance fees for the stand’s footing before we can even submit a reapplication for permission from the city to maintain its location on the boulevard.
Once the stand clears the permitting process, as with most other things in life, taxes apply, but at no point in the process is there an accounting for the stand’s aggregate time in the community, or for its ability to make ends meet despite market ‘trends,’ health or other issues which can impact the owners’ ability to stay in business, such as increasing homelessness in the area; the stand is thus locked in a tax system which never offsets the burdens it places on small business with anything other than permission to keep operating.
Each year, new hurdles are placed in front of working class families as small businesses owners, but they continue to rise with their small places to claim their time under the sun. With their heads up high, they greet their customers loyally, serving each of them with gratitude in their gestures, and placing their faiths in the forces beyond them to continue with all of it through another day–and if they’re bendecidas enough–through another year.
The extension of the deadline for Super Pan is thus a sign of good faith for what lies ahead, but there is in fact much more work left to do for the pueblo. For now, please visit a small mom and pop shop near you with while it’s still feasible. Those small businesses are dreams come true for many families, and with them we move onto yet more dreams, for tomorrow.