BRYAN, Texas — It’s hard to walk past 'Itza Bip', a small storefront in historic downtown Bryan, and not stop.
Shop owner Blanca Pinalez is outside, setting up a table while greeting people passing by.
“¿Cómo estás?” She began, with a smile. “Buenos días”
Perhaps you would bat an eye, if the colors weren’t so bright or listen to something else if the laughs shared between coworkers and customers weren’t so contagious.
“Look at this one,” one customer exclaimed, as she pulled a white dress with color stitching from the clothing rack along a wall.
"It's nice to see their faces when they walk through the door,” Pinalez said.
It’s a sight welcomed by small business owners, especially after having doubts during COIVD-19.
We started selling tamales,” Pinalez said. “The owner was so sensitive about it, that he helped a lot with the rent.”
Walking into the store is a little like taking a trip to Mexico.
"They don't have to cross the border, they can find all those little items handmade in this shop,” she said, smiling.
Pinalez is originally from Montemorelos, Nuevo León, a small city in Mexico known for its oranges.
“My daddy [was] a farmer,” she remembered.
She, like many others, found home in the Brazos Valley.
“I've only been here for like a week,” Lupita Carrizales, an employee at the store, said.
It’s her first year at Blinn College; leaving home is never easy.
“I’ve been feeling alone,” she admitted.
“I was like, trying to get adapted to the change, and everything and then I started working here."
Carrizales said 'Itza Bip' gave her a purpose, as they sell big dreams, dreamt by Mexican families.
"It's the only way that we can keep our culture and tradition alive, by keeping to these respected artisans from Mexico,” Pinalez said.
The store sells different merchandise from multiple families across Mexico.
For some families, it’s one of the only ways they can keep food on the table.
"[The families] are so pleased,” Pinalez explained. “They're so humble, they really love their work, and we're happy to help them."
In fact, every penny spent on a pair of shoes, a piece of clothing or an accessory at the store goes directly back to those families that live hundreds of miles away.
"Family comes first and we support each other all the way,” Pinalez said, with a smile.