Story, photos and video by Sherry Mazzocchi
The past month has been a whirlwind for Aurora Anaya-Cerda.
Her El Barrio bookstore, La Casa Azul, celebrated its one-year anniversary.
Then she whisked off to Washington, D.C. to accept an award at the White House.
Four weeks later, she presided over the opening day of her latest venture—a pop-up bookstore in La Marqueta.
La Casa Azul’s main store is located at 103rd Street and Lexington Avenue, but when she saw the opportunity for a two-month lease in the historic Latin and Caribbean marketplace, she knew it was right.
The pop-up store is located in the main building, nestled under the Metro North train tracks at Park Avenue and 115th Street.
“It has a historical significance,” she said of La Marqueta.
In the 1930’s and 40’s, La Marqueta was the place where Puerto Ricans newly arrived to El Barrio shopped for food, clothes and items from back home.
Neighborhood people often talk about going there with parents and grandparents. Some of those stories are even captured in poems and books sold in her store.
“I see how our bookstore is the perfect way to tie in the history to this new East Harlem,” she said.
The White House also recognized the impact of Anaya-Cerda’s work in the neighborhood.
On June 4, she and 11 other entrepreneurs were honored at the White House as Champions of Change, people who successfully used crowdfunding to create small businesses.
Read more: Home rules.