Julio García Santillán sent his holiday gifts months ago to his family in Ecuador. He boxed up electronics, clothes, and toys for his grandson, cousins, nieces, and nephews that are still there. But he didn’t use a larger company to handle his shipment. Instead, he went to a local paquetería. 

"I’ve been living in the United States for three years now. I’ve looked a lot in North Carolina for a package delivery service," says García Santillán. "It was really difficult at first to find one that would deliver to Ecuador. Only a few agencies deliver to my home country."

Paqueterías came about after many immigrants didn’t have an accessible and affordable way to deliver packages to their home countries. Here in North Carolina, many of them are advertised through Facebook, WhatsApp, or just word of mouth. 

"This started because of a necessity," says Jessica Miño, the owner of Ontime Global Courier, a paquetería based in Charlotte. "When I arrived in North Carolina, the Ecuadorian community was small. The business was born out of my family’s own necessity. We had family in the country and it was very difficult and expensive to send them gifts. It was too costly so we would wait until someone would travel and deliver it for us."

Many of these paqueterías market themselves as a much cheaper alternative than a national delivery service. Plus, Miño says a smaller local company tends to feel more trustworthy.

For customers like Santillán, having a direct point of contact gives them extra assurance that their gifts will get there on time. 

"It’s an immense happiness for both parties," says Santillán. "The one who sends it, and the one who receives it."

For many immigrants, trust and language accessibility is what keeps them loyal customers to their local paquetería. That’s important to people like Santillán, who knows how much his family looks forward to receiving his gifts, especially during the holidays.

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