Shopping has always been a family experience for me, whether I was heading out with my grandparents or my mother, with my boyfriend, or with my kids.

As a child in central California, I loved going to the weekly flea-markets with my grandparents. In my family, it was called "la ramada," a word I believe we used because of the covered, open-sided stalls that lined the rows of the dirt field. These days were exciting: There were samples being given out by the farmers; there was music blaring from the vendors' booths.

When I moved to Mexico after college, I spent six out of seven days at work. On my days off, my boyfriend and I looked forward to going shopping together. The tianguis that sprouted weekly in our neighborhood was much like the "ramada" experience of my childhood. The weekend trip to the big-box store was not that different: We'd either go to La Ley, Gigante or maybe Wal-Mart. Rather than been seen as a chore, it was fun.

In the stores, there almost always were "edecanes," young women offering samples of anything from crackers and cookies to cheese and tequila. Often, there was a DJ loudly playing banda music, with more pretty girls on hand to pass out balloons or to spin a lottery wheel to give away branded prizes.

I was reminded of all this when I spotted this article on the growing movement to capture the hearts and wallets of Hispanic consumers: PYMNTS.com Mobile, Social And Loyalty Savvy: Keys To Encouraging Hi...

If you read Gustavo Arellano's column Ask a Mexican, you may remember seeing a reader ask why Mexicans get dressed up and head out as whole families to go to the swap meet. From personal experience, I'd say it's because we see it as family time. Often it's something we do on a Sunday, maybe after church or before we go to some other family event. It's an outing for us, not a chore. It's time that we take advantage of, an opportunity for entertainment (and a budget- and family-friendly outing at that!) and time to spend together.

I hope retailers will catch onto this as they look to reach out to the Latino community. I sure miss those samples of cheese and tequila.

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