Local Motion on Joseph Ave sells Puerto Rican clothing and flags

Reggaeton music and the cry of the coquí frog of the El Yunque National Forest spilled out from Local Motion Sports & Fashion and down Joseph Avenue.

Co-owner Jaime Rivera said he plays the sound of the coqui during the holidays and the Puerto Rican festival. This week, the store was busy with customers in the days leading up 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 run the store since 1979. They are both Puerto Rican and came to Rochester from New York. During its existence, their store has been a hub for community and celebration.

“You know what’s the best thing about it, being in the business a long time? Do you see children who are small and they come back and they have their children and some of them even have grandchildren already. It’s awesome. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Jaime Rivera.

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

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

“I like people (to be) happy when they buy the clothes and the flags,” she said.

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

Days after the murder near his store, Jaime Rivera told the Democrat and Chronicle he used to keep Local Motion open late, but made the decision a few years ago to start closing before the night.

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

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

The couple say they will remain open at the Joseph Avenue location. Jaime Rivera said he was moved when he looked back on the store’s journey and impact.

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

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Kayla Canne, Democratic community justice and safety reporter and columnist, and Adria R. Walker, upstate New York reporter, contributed to this report.

Judge 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_marbury. His website is justicemarbury.com.

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