If you frequent Laurel Market in Eastover, chances are you’ve met Magdalena “Maggie” Vazquez or Gerardo “Jerry” Peralta. Maggie and Jerry have worked behind the register at the neighborhood market for 14 years and 10 years, respectively.
“The people are super friendly and super respectful,” says Maggie, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, who lives in west Charlotte. “They are genuinely good people. It is the overall feel of the neighborhood — working at Laurel Market has been great,” she says.
“The owners, Susan and Ron [Hardman], are amazing. They treat us like family,” adds Jerry, who lives in north Charlotte but is originally from Acapulco, Mexico. Jerry also runs an event planning business for birthday parties, quinceañeras and other events.
Maggie and Jerry agree that one of the best things about working at Laurel Market has been getting to know the repeat customers. “All the regulars come here, and I know what they are going to get,” Jerry says. “Like Emma, she comes here only for her French roast coffee. We usually see her every Saturday. Michael, he does graphic design and comes here all the time. He actually made our new menus.”
One of those regulars is Eastover resident Anne Bridgeman.
“My twins are 9 now, and Jerry and Maggie have known me since I was pregnant,” Bridgeman says. “I walked up here every day when they were born, literally. They are like family, honestly.”
Comments were edited for length and clarity.
Maggie: Now I’m studying more English. I’ve been taking classes at Central Piedmont Community College for two years and I really like it there. All of the teachers are really good; they help you. They give you advice. It has helped me to be more successful. I go to school right after work, Monday-Thursday, three hours each day.
Maggie: My daughter, Odalis, is 16 years old. She never stops. We are always on the go! We go to the park on the weekends, especially Freedom Park. It is such a beautiful park in Charlotte — the lake, dogs running, the trails.
Jerry: One of my favorite things to do Charlotte each year with my friends is go to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. It’s like you are in another world. Everything … the buildings, the food, the culture … everything is so different.
Jerry: I love to go to the mountains from Charlotte. I enjoy a weekend trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., which takes about three hours. I enjoy riding the lift chairs, and you can see the beautiful views. In the summer, I like to take a weekend trip to Charleston, S.C.
Maggie: Azteca on Woodlawn and Don Pedro are our favorite spots for Mexican food in Charlotte.
Jerry: I have several favorites. There is a Cajun restaurant in the University area called Crab Du Jour that is amazing. You can order your own seafood combo that is really good. SP
compiled by Whitley Adkins Hamlin
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Photographs by Richard Israel