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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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In Marketplace

Owner Jose Jaimes talks candy with a customer.

In Marketplace

So many pinatas are suspended from the ceiling it takes a while to notice them on the walls.

In Marketplace

Dulceria La Mexicana is in the old Lincoln Theater building in Lincoln Village's busiest commercial strip.

Dulceria La Mexicana sweetens Lincoln Village


Jose Jaimes saw an unfulfilled need in Milwaukee: the need for candy. And lots of it.

In February 2009, Jaimes opened Dulceria La Mexicana, 1104 W. Lincoln Ave. Located along one of the busiest commercial strips in Lincoln Village, the candy store can now fill all of Milwaukee's needs for Mexican candy, pinatas and party supplies.

The large candy store is in the old Lincoln Theater building. The building's owner had already altered the interior somewhat from when it was a theater and the space was a bar before Jaimes began stocking it full of candy and pinatas. It's hard to imagine dancing and drinking ever taking place on the floor, since there's very little of it now that's not covered with candy displays and shelves of party supplies.

When walking into Dulceria La Mexicana, one is immediately struck by all the pinatas hanging from the ceiling, which often leads to exclamations of "Wow" from kids both big and small. There are so many pinatas suspended from the ceiling that it takes a little while to notice that many of the walls are also covered in pinatas.

Jaimes likes to see the excitement of new customers when they first walk in to his store, which is one reason why he loves running a candy store.

"And I can be here all day, in this colorful setting, because it feels like I've brought a little piece of Mexico here with me," Jaimes says.

All the pinatas in Dulceria La Mexicana are handmade. Jaimes carries pinatas made by a Milwaukee woman, others are made in Chicago, Kenosha and various locations in Mexico. All the usual characters can be found on the pinatas, Cars (from the movies), Spiderman, Thomas the Train, Minnie Mouse, Dora, princesses and Tinkerbell. More traditional pinatas are available in a number of sizes, with animal or star shapes. Custom pinatas can also be ordered.

Jaimes says there's a common misconception about certain big-box "discount" stores among people seeking pinatas.

"Those are made in a factory. The ones we have here are handmade, they are more colorful, and have a different feeling to them," he says.

They are often not cheaper, either, perhaps the primary reason a pinata-seeker would head to Walmart, say, rather than to a local candy store. Pinatas in Dulceria La Mexicana run anywhere from $9.99 to $24.99.

Many of the pinatas and candy supplies are sold for children's birthday and communion parties. Summer parties being the most popular for pinatas, according to Jaimes. Business has traditionally slowed a bit in the winter, after Las Posadas, which is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's quest for housing in Bethlehem before they settled into that famed stable.

Las Posadas is just over a week, beginning December 16 and ending on Christmas Eve. Each night, people will go from home to home, scheduled stops in a neighborhood, for songs and the ritualistic refusal of lodging to those who've come knocking. The nights end with children either breaking pinatas or Jaimes says sometimes bags he sells are filled with candy and distributed instead.

Dulceria La Mexicana also has all you need for Halloween, from plastic jack-o-lantern buckets, to plastic skulls and large, rubber bats. And, whether for pinatas or for trick-or-treat bags, customers can get a pound of chewy Mexican candies for just $2.89.

The usual lines of party cups, plates and napkins can be found at Dulceria La Mexicana, as well as bubbles, stickers, bags of big (really big) marshmallows, large packages of chocolates, gum, lollipops and many other sweets.

Other interesting items are not designed to get at your sweet tooth at Dulceria La Mexicana, including soccer balls, soccer uniforms and caps. Two sizes of Loteria are available with packs starting at $3.99. Loteria is a Mexican bingo-like game with cards consisting of images rather than numbers.

In general, Jaimes says business has slowed in response to the slow economy. Depending on how our larger economic picture shapes up, Jaimes would like to bring in even more items from Mexico in order to supply smaller stores with authentic items.

Jaimes has two daughters, ages eight and two, and two sons, who are 13 and 11 years old. Sometimes the kids are in the store, but mostly it's just dad. Jaimes travels frequently to Chicago to pick up some items for the store.

Jaimes invites all of Milwaukee to his store: all candy lovers and those with party supply needs will not be disappointed.

"Please feel free to come in, walk around and discover what there is in the Mexican community," Jaimes says.

Dulceria La Mexicana is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and every other day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. During the winter months, the store may occasionally close, as business tapers off some when the snow flies.

Julio Espinoza Vilchez contributed to this report.


Talkbacks

Hckyboy00 | Oct. 16, 2011 at 3:09 a.m. (report)

I was at Stefans Soccer across the street this week and was kicking myself for not stopping by. He has the most delicious spicy mango and watermelon taffy candy. i have to make a point to stop by soon. it's one of the best in the city, and as much as i love jelly bellys, he has such a wonderful variety of things most people have never tried before, it's worth the stop.

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