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Luz de Luna shines light on culture
Photo: Emmely Benitez

Coming from Peru, Denise Gonzales, the owner of Luz de Luna, works at her shop every single day from 11am-8pm. Her store located at South Van Ness and 24th streets, is a store where all Latin places in the world meet. The place sales many different crafts, jewelry, candles, and other products that artisans from all over the world make. Gonzales has had her shop on 24th Street for about 6 years now, where she is helped by two employees.

In 2008 her store was located on 25th Street, but it wasn’t big enough for all her merchandise. “I moved the store location because we needed a larger space,” said Gonzales

Merchandise at Luz de Luna. Photo: Emmely Benitez

But Gonzales wasn’t always a owner of her own store, she used to be a nurse in the Bay Area. When the hospital she used to work at decided to close, her managers gave her the opportunity to work at a hospital at the other side of the Bay Area.

“I said no, and I thought well, I’m close now, I should retire but I decided to create … a small business and that’s how I did it, and little by little I gave it a Latin flavor.”

Gonzales likes to interact with her customers and let them know more about the item they select.  “I love that all cultures come together here, not only Latin, but it’s multicultural” said Gonzales 

Gonzales knew that this job was meant for her because she worked many years giving service to customers, so she has always liked to keep in contact with the people she helps. “I have worked many years in the service industry, I used to work in hotels, as a caretaker, at a clinic and I worked giving care to patients and so I’ve always enjoyed being in contact with people.”

A challenge for Gonzales is the economic situation. For her, this means not being able to buy more merchandise to sell. “I feel my hands are tied because I see that I can’t, so I figure, ‘next time'”.

Merchandise at Luz de Luna. Photo: Emmely Benitez

“I love Latin American Art, I love always being in touch with it.” 

Something difficult for denise is that she constantly has to keep her store clean and with new product for her sell. Another challenge for her is to price her products fairly, so people will purchase them.

In October Luz de Luna gets full of customers, because people start to buy supplies for their altars for the Day of the Death, that’s when people go to go to Gonzales’ store and buy different things.

For the future, she wants to see her store grow more, fill with more customers. “In the future I would love for the business to continue forward, and I hope I can continue forward too,” said Gonzales

Denise Gonzales, owner of Luz de Luna, holds a portrait of herself. Photo: Emmely Benitez
Photo: Emmely Benitez
Photo: Emmely Benitez

Story by: Emmely Benitez