Irayda Flores has always been the go-to seafood provider for her friends and family, and now she provides for the community, too.
“I love seafood since always,” said Flores, owner and founder of Pescadería el Puerto de Guaymas, a wholesale fish market with two locations in Phoenix and Mesa. “When I [would] share time with family and friends in my house before I started the business, I [was] always cooking fish or seafood.”
Flores said her friends and family used to ask her to bring seafood for them from Guaymas, Sonora, near where she was born in Ciudad Obregón. Guaymas is the “official beach” of her childhood and her favorite place to find fresh seafood.
“One day I [said], ‘I will do retail and wholesale for seafood, because everybody’s asking for seafood,’” Flores said.
The first pescadería location opened in 2014, and the local community has responded positively, she said.
“It is very popular [in] the Hispanic community right now, because normally people from Sonora, from Sinaloa, they love the seafood,” she said. “I’m very happy now to [be] doing this business, because people [are] responding. They like the product. It’s fresh product that we import every week.”
Each week, fishermen catch, prepare and package fresh seafood — including fish, shrimp, scallops, octopi and more — to be shipped by truck from Sonora, Mexico, across the border to Arizona. The fish is never completely frozen, but in order to make the trek across the desert — and meet FDA standards — it is stored in freezers set to negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We do wholesale and retail, offering to the customers the best product in the Valley,” Flores said. “It’s all fresh, and it’s very… good nutrition for the family, too. [It’s] good for [families] to [eat] fish and shrimp and all kinds of seafood.”
After the success of her first store in Phoenix (located at Thomas Road and 43rd Avenue in Maryvale) Flores opened a second location in Mesa, at Broadway Road and Stapley Drive. Now she plans to open two more locations in the West Valley, with at least one in Tolleson.
“People [are] responding [well] in Mesa, Arizona… all the Hispanic community over there, too,” Flores said. “Now, we have two locations coming — another, third one in Tolleson, Arizona, very soon. We’re still working with the permits and finding the place and all these processes.”
Flores said she is excited to continue expanding her business to more communities.
“Because people [are] happy with this product and responding, we are [expanding] the business, and I’m happy to provide jobs to people,” she said. “I have five employees at each location.”
Flores said she likes having the opportunity to employ people in the Valley because she knows the wages are helping support her employees’ families. She said her employees generally work either a morning or afternoon shift, but she likes to change up her workers’ schedules to keep things interesting.
“We never close; this is the business that is open every day,” Flores said.
The stores are open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day except Christmas. The pescaderías see more business in the summer — “it’s fresh seafood, and people like to eat seafood in summertime” — while wintertime sees more customers asking for fish grilled to go.
“This is not a restaurant; this is a seafood market,” Flores said. “But still, people come and eat here sometimes, or they order a fish and take it home.”
Usually, people like to bring the seafood home to prepare and enjoy with their families, she said.
“I’m happy to see that, and I’m so happy because we have social media — Facebook, Instagram — and everybody is sending me pictures [of] what they cook at home,” Flores said. “They say, ‘this is what I bought in your store’ — Mesa location or Phoenix — ‘and this is what we cooked at home.’ They have family time, and I’m happy to provide a healthy product, healthy food for the families, because we don’t do anything with grease or oil here.”
A family-friendly atmosphere is part of what makes Pescadería el Puerto de Guaymas unique, Flores said. The stores offer a variety of chips, hot sauces and other traditional snacks imported from Mexico, but it does not offer alcohol in keeping with the healthful theme.
“Everybody [is] working with a nice environment here,” Flores said. “They are happy. They play music, talk to people and prepare the seafood when customers want to take it home prepared already.”
She said her business also caters to Valley businesses, often preparing grilled fish, ceviche and seafood cocktails with octopus, scallops or shrimp for employees of nearby offices.
“Arizona is my hometown,” she said. “I have my family here — my mother, sisters and brother… and it’s a good opportunity for me because there is a lot of Hispanic community in Arizona, and also because we are [on] the border with Sonora, so that [means] it is easy for me to import the seafood.”
Flores said she is looking beyond Arizona for future business ventures because her operation is “growing up.” She plans to sell seafood wholesale in other states, starting with Nevada and California. Restaurants, hotels and other businesses are all potential customers.
“Since my business has started getting successful and opening new locations, I’m very happy — more happy to see that I can provide opportunities to people getting a job,” Flores said. “And I’m happy that I can say that we have a great product in Guaymas, Sonora, that we can import every week to bring to the customers.”