What are your top, must-have items?

Shopper stories, behind the counter & Quarantine Starter Pack

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Photo: Gela Cabrera Loa

Paraíso Tropical kicked off its online shopping and pick-up & delivery options

shortly after news of COVID-19 led to more self-isolation. Fortunately, both locations are still open and its business hours are still the same.

As news quickly evolves day-by-day, the Latin food market is considering offering a “Quarantine Starter Pack”, which would contain some food items & products. While there are 3000 products registered in Paraíso Tropical’s inventory, it’s difficult to guess which items should be made available online and which items to include in a Quarantine Starter Pack: folks from different cultures tend to want different items.

Therefore, the Paraíso team would like to hear from you – the customer – on what your top items are if a Quarantine Starter Pack were to be offered! If you would like to participate in this questionnaire, see further details below!

In the meantime, we have chatted with some customers, who are still shopping in our stores, as well as staff, to share some thoughts, memories, and favourite items. For those of you who follow us on social media, you may recognize some faces, as we have shared snippets from our interviews with them, so consider this the full version!

Photo: Kristina de Guzman

NICOLAS, northside shopper

How long have you been shopping at Paraíso?

10 years.

Where are you originally from?


What would you say is your favourite product here?

Everything. But mostly, I buy tortillas and chorizochiles

What kinds of foods do you make with the chiles?

Salsas – Mexican hot salsas. Spicy stuff to marinate meat. We have Mexican dishes like the tamales or the pozole.

Do you have any advice for someone who has never shopped here before?

Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of [Hispanic] products that’s really delicious and they should try the tostadas, the tortillas, a lot of salsas – home-made salsas. There’s a lot of variety of food.

What do you like best about Paraíso Tropical?

That the people [are] pretty good. The location is pretty good. And also, they have a lot of variety of products – you can find everything here.

Photo: Kristina de Guzman


northside/southside staff

How long have you been working here?

I’ve been working here for 8 months.

Are you here from Canada or from somewhere else?

I’m here from Honduras.

How long have you been here in Canada?

Four years.

What’s your role here in the store?

So, basically, cashiering; putting everything on the shelf; making sure that customers are being helped; cleaning – just a little bit of everything.

Can you tell me about the first time you came to Paraíso Tropical – what was your experience like?

I first came here with my parents [four years ago] – I didn’t know about the store. They brought me here, and we came to look for Maseca to make tortillas. And it was really interesting ‘cause I got to see a lot of stuff from different places – I didn’t even know what they were. So, I liked it.

What would you say is your favourite product to eat or buy from the store?

My favourite thing to eat here is definitely – I’ll say…cheese empanadas. Those are my favourite ones. Those are my number one. But I also like yuca con chicharrón. That’s very good.

What is your favourite part about working at Paraíso?

Everybody here – staff are like a family. We like to help each other, talk to each other – just making sure that everything is good [for] our customers.

Are there any challenges in the work that you do here?

Definitely when there’s a lot of people, we have to help everybody and there’s times where we have to help like three people at a time. So definitely, just managing time with everybody, trying to help everybody.

Is there a busier time of the week or the day than others?

Ummm…weekends. Saturdays & Sundays have to be the busiest days. But right now, we also have [busy times] on the weekdays, too.

For someone who has never shopped here before, like a [non-Latino] Canadian shopper, do you have any advice for them?

Yes, just come to Paraíso! Try a little bit of everything, just something new for you. There’s food. There’s products that you can use. There’s candies, too, from different places, so just come!

Photo: Kristina de Guzman

FRANCISCO, southside shopper

¿Cual es su nombre? (What’s your name?)


¿Cuántos años ha estado comprando aquí? (How many years have you been shopping here?)

Cinco años. (Five years.)

¿De qué país es? (What country are you from?)


¿Cual es su producto favorito aquí en Paraíso? (What is your favourite product here?)

Aquí, vengo por la leche, producto latino. Que siempre compramo aquí eso, harina para tamales y varias cosas. También, hacemos empanadas con queso o con carne. (Here, I come for milk, for Latin products. What I always buy here is flour for tamales and other things. Also, we make empanadas with cheese or meat.)

¿Si sólo pudiera comprar tres productos aquí, cuales sérian? (If you could only buy three products, what would they be?)

La harina y la leche para el niño y siempre compro el liño. (Flour, milk for kids and I always buy flaxseed.)

¿Qué le gusta más sobre Paraíso Tropical? (What do you like best about Paraíso Tropical?)

La cultura latina. Nosotros buscamos productos como ají, la canela, y las nueces. (The Latin culture. We look for products such as chilis, cinnamon, and nuts.)

What about you? What are your top, must-have items? We welcome you to participate in Paraíso’s “Quarantine Starter Kit” Questionnaire via Google Forms by Tuesday, May 12, 2020!

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