Puerto Rican Festival-goers flock to Joseph Avenue store to get decked out in flag gear

·2 min read

Reggaeton music and the coquí frog call from El Yunque National Forest poured out from Local Motion Sport & Fashion and onto Joseph Avenue.

Co-owner Jaime Rivera said that he plays the sound of the coquí during holidays and the Puerto Rican Festival. This week, the store was busy with customers in the days leading to the annual festival, which returns to Frontier Field for the first time since the pandemic began.

He and his wife, Amelia “Cookie” Rivera, have been running the store since 1986. They are both Puerto Rican and came to Rochester from New York City. Over the course of its existence, their store has been a hub for community and celebration.

In this photo from 1986, a young Amelia "Cookie" and Jaime Rivera hold each other at an event in Rochester, New York.
In this photo from 1986, a young Amelia "Cookie" and Jaime Rivera hold each other at an event in Rochester, New York.

“You know what is the best thing about this, being in the business for a long time? Is that you see kids that are little and they come back and they got their kids and some of them even have grandkids already. It’s wow. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” Jaime Rivera said.

During the Puerto Rican Festival, the couple sells Puerto Rican flags and apparel to people who want to show their pride for the island and its culture. The shop also showcases Puerto Rico and other Caribbean cultures on bandanas, jewelry, bags, dishware, domino tables, ceramic figurines and more. Inside, items for sale are on display from floor to ceiling.

Revisiting the Rochester Narrative:Meet the summer fellows who are helping our newsroom change how we cover Rochester

More from the fellows:Peace walk in Maplewood neighborhood reflects on 1964 Joseph Avenue uprising

Selling these patriotic items during the Puerto Rican Festival helps build connections, Amelia Rivera said.

“I love the people (being) happy when they buy the clothes and the flags,” she said.

The Joseph Avenue neighborhood has seen many changes over the years of the store's existence. Last month, two undercover Rochester Police officers were shot on Bauman Street, near Local Motion Sport & Fashion. One of them, Anthony Mazurkiewicz, died.

A couple days after the killing near his store, Jaime Rivera told the Democrat and Chronicle that he used to keep Local Motion open late but made the decision a few years ago to start closing before dark.

Still, the Riveras remain committed to customers and Joseph Avenue.

Past coverage:Fatal shots on Bauman St. echo through morning routine of a bone-weary community

Amelia "Cookie" and Jaime Rivera are the owners of Local   Motion Sport & Fashion Shop on Joseph Avenue in Rochester, New York.
Amelia "Cookie" and Jaime Rivera are the owners of Local Motion Sport & Fashion Shop on Joseph Avenue in Rochester, New York.

When the couple started their business, they got a lot of support from the community, said Jaime Rivera. People also stop by from out of town to pick up gifts to take home.

The couple says they will stay open at the Joseph Avenue location. Jaime Rivera said he gets emotional when he looks back at the store’s journey and impact.

“I plan to do it for another hundred years maybe,” he said.

Photos:52nd annual Puerto Rican Festival kicks off in Rochester

Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to reflect the year when the store first opened.

Democrat and Chronicle Community Justice and Safety Reporter Kayla Canne and Upstate New York Storytelling Reporter Adria R. Walker contributed to this report.

Justice Marbury is a Revisiting the Rochester Narrative fellow and a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology's photojournalism program. Follow her on Instagram @justice_marburyHer website is justicemarbury.com.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Local Motion on Joseph Ave sells Puerto Rican apparel and flags