|"Lizette" knows a good bargain when she sees one.|
The third installment of Yo Soy Hialeah focuses on two iconic stores, Ño Que Barato! and Ño Que Caché.
Hialeah Bargain Shopping wasn’t easy to film, mainly because Miami native comedian Freddy Stebbins had us in stitches as we improvised. Stebbins, who is really from “Miami-uh” — that old-time southern city before the influx of Cubans — grew up during the influx, in a transitional cross-cultural setting, deeply appreciating Hispanic culture while living in a traditional gringo household. It’s this dichotomy that inspires his humor today and his love for Hialeah, a place where he used to go shopping as a kid.
|"El Gringo" thinks he's ready for a night out in South Beach.|
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Sex and the Beach interviewed Serafín Blanco, the owner and founder of Ño Que Barato and Ño Que Caché, over the phone.
Blanco left Cuba in the late 60s as a teen, landing in Spain before settling in Miami and reuniting with his parents in 1970. He left high school early to become a self-made entrepreneur, working in the then thriving Hialeah textile industry.
He married, made a family and worked hard, but things in the fabric world would eventually change. Pressure from manufacturing in China, South and Central America forced him to use surplus fabric to make his own clothes — batas de casa (housewife robes), tshirts, tank tops and so on. In 1992, he opened his first store Clothing Machine, which was right next to Dollar Machine. Eventually, this would become El Dollarazo, which the Blanco family still owns today.
Clothing Machine obviously didn’t have a catchy name.
Blanco opened Ño Que Barato in 1996, but at first it was just called Que Barato, which translates literally as "how inexpensive." Cuban comedian Alvarez Guedes, and the fact that many Cubans use the word coño pretty much in every sentence, inspired Blanco to add the loaded two-letter abbreviation ño next to the words Que Barato on the storefront wall, where he happened to have enough space for the now famous syllable.
The word coño isn’t easy to translate. It can mean many things I can’t publish here, including words starting with SH and FU. Just as in English we use those SH and FU words in myriad ways, so do Cubans use the C word in many positive and negative connotations.
In this case, it’s an emphasis word, meaning “[insert expletive here], that’s cheap!” If I had my way, I’d translate it thusly: “What a f*cking bargain!”
Today, the Ño stores are a landmark in Hialeah, still family owned and family run. Blanco’s daughter had the idea for Baby Caché, which opened in 2002 and is part of Ño Que Caché. This discount store offers a great variety of baby items for canastilla, the trousseau of sorts for newborns, as well as plentiful clothing options for men, women and children. Caché Fiestas next door hosts an entertainment facility for kid parties.
The story of Serafín Blanco is yet another great chapter in entrepreneurship from Hialeah. “We’ve had our ups and downs,” Blanco said. “But we keep moving forward.”
Hialeah Bargain Shopping was created in collaboration with Oscar Piloto. To reach Freddy, find him on Facebook. We filmed Freddy as he was getting ready and warming up for his "Lizette" character. Click here for some hilarious out takes.