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TR PHOTOS BY SUZANA MEYER – Gabriela Vargas, one of the owners of La Salud Grocery Store, fills small cups with fresh water to sample for participants of the Downtown Cultural Business and Art Walk Tuesday afternoon.

About a dozen people participated in the Downtown Cultural Business and Art Walk Tuesday afternoon, and in addition to experiencing and exploring the many different businesses in the Marshalltown community, they were able to admire several murals along the way.

The YMCA-YWCA of Marshalltown sponsored the two tours, one at 2:30 and the other at 4:30 p.m., each lasting about an hour and a half. Stops on the agenda include Golden Kane Asian Store, La Salud Grocery Store, Zamora Fresh Market, Villachuato Supermarket, Adelina’s Grill and Golden Land Asian Food, along with many downtown murals.

These downtown tours had been part of the Y’s annual schedule for three years before the pandemic, and despite a brief hiatus between events due to Covid-19, they are back for 2022 on Tuesday.

YMCA-YWCA Finance Director Wendy Soltero led and organized this year’s tours with the help of Executive Assistant Marie Zamora.Soltero enjoyed the opportunity to introduce the community to the many tribal businesses in Marshalltown.

While it’s been a Y event in the past, this year, Soltero partnered with the Marshall County Arts and Culture Coalition to highlight some of the murals that have popped up around town over the past few years.

The YMCA-YWCA Finance Director and tour guides discuss the products of La Salud Grocery Store with one of the tour participants during the 2:30 Downtown Cultural Business and Arts Walking Tour on Tuesday afternoon.

“We wanted to bring it back. I know there’s been a lot of people asking about it, and it’s a big thing for the community,” Soltero said. “Hopefully this will continue to be a connection between the community, for people who haven’t been to these seed businesses before and feel like they’re feeling — maybe they don’t feel welcome, or they don’t know or they’re a little scared to go in. The idea is to come in and see what’s inside and maybe come back and make friends next time.” Because they feel they can bring it.

The small group that participated in the 2:30 tour, including Y CEO Carol Hibbs, as well as Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO John Hull and other council members, were able to go inside each of the businesses and look around. Many people made purchases and talked to shop owners.

Gabriela Vargas, one of the owners of La Salud, was generous enough to provide homemade drinks, and Jose Zaragoza, the owner of Zamora, offered tacos and fruit samples to tour participants, so people could get a feel for what the businesses had to offer.

Soltero pointed out different things in each business and even recommended items and dishes to try during the visit. She felt the tours were a great way to introduce people who might not normally visit tribal businesses to the various shops and encourage them to come back and visit on their own.

“(The tour) fits right in with what we stand for at the Y, so it’s about diversity and inclusion and welcome,” Soltero said. I am fortunate to work for a company that loves the same things that I personally love. So I like being a Hispanic person, I like teaching people and trying to engage my culture, and not just my culture, but different groups and differences, so it supports being able to work for the Y. Likewise.

Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall will sample one of the snacks he purchased at a local business to other participants of the Downtown Cultural Business and Arts Walk.

Soltero said visiting these businesses in the city is a great opportunity for people to learn about a new culture and feel “part of a community.”

“I always say, and I always say, art and culture are universal. It’s a universal way to bring everyone together,” Soltero said. “We are fortunate to be in a community with so much diversity. So you can experience, eat, and experiment and learn about different cultures without leaving your city.

During the walk, participants were able to view the Marshalltown Selfie Mural, the Tremont Mural and paper airplane painting, as well as the sidewalk poetry.

The Y’s downtown walking tours are held annually, and Soltero said she hopes to see even more participation in 2023. In her view, people shouldn’t expect to learn about the diverse businesses and cultures in Marshalltown, and she’ll be personally happy. Answer questions at any time.

“Even if we don’t have the tours and someone feels like they want me to come with them, I’m happy to do that,” Soltero said.

Downtown Cultural Trade and Art Walk participants and tour guides pose for photos with the Marshalltown Selfie Mural downtown.

Soltero can be reached at the Y at (641) 752-8658, extension 207, to answer questions related to the downtown tour, and we hope the tours will return again in 2023.

Following are the addresses of the businesses visited during the tour.

• Golden Key Asian Store: 136 W. Main St.

• La Salud Grocery Store: 17 N. First St.

• Zamora Fresh Market: 4 E. Main Street.

• Villachuato Supermarket: 107 N. Center St.

• Adelina’s Grill: 101 N. Center St.

• Golden Can Asian Cuisine: 11 E. State St.


Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or

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