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Little Village Retail Strip Is Second Highest Grossing in City

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There is a lot of buying power in Chicago's Mexican American community and new numbers show it's fueling the economic center of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports the shopping district along 26th Street that stretches from Sacramento west 14 blocks is now the second highest grossing retail strip in the city.

Of course a place exploding with piñatas and treats would be located at Dulcelandia. That's Candyland in English and it's been a mainstay in Little Village for 20 years

In the heart of Chicago's Mexican-American community, the shops along 26th Street ring up $900 million in sales annually, now second only to Chicago's Michigan Avenue.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Julio Rodriguez of Dulcelandia. "It's amazing but it doesn't surprise me because of the density of businesses here locally."

The 500 plus business owners know their reputation, serving up fair to folks from well beyond Chicago.

"We see people from New York, Indiana, Wisconsin," said Roberto Gomez from Don Pepe restaurant.

On a weekend as many as 20,000 cars will travel past the boulevards mix of street vendors, mom and pop stores and national chains with a Mexican flair.

"For a street that's not connected to a highway or main corridor it's a lot," said Jaime DiPaulo, executive director of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

Business is bilingual but mostly Spanish is spoken at one dress store. The explosion of dress stores catering to teenage debut celebrations called a Quinceañera

is evidence those shopping include many growing young second and third generation families.

"It's a big business here," said DiPaulo. "We have over 40 stores like that we are becoming the capital of the Quinceañera in the Midwest."

"It showcases how an area of Chicago can be profitable in this community," said Rodriguez.

The gap between sales on 26th Street and Michigan Avenue is huge, $900 million vs. $1.8 billion annually.

But the numbers in Little Village are considerable considering the average shopper earns $33,000 a year.

This number is incredible too: 500,000 Mexican Americans live within a 10 minute drive of the colorful shopping district.

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