It Happens Here: Portugalia Marketplace a cultural institution in Fall River
By Jordyn Jagolinzer, November 30th 2023, CBS Boston
FALL RIVER – Portugalia Marketplace started in a garage 35 years ago in Fall River. Now it’s reaching a much larger audience, bringing products from Portugal to Massachusetts.
Portuguese is the third most spoken language in the state and, in Fall River, just about half of the city’s residents are of Portuguese decent.
“Portugalia started in 1988 in a three-car garage in the back of our tenement home where we lived,” Portugalia Vice President Michael Benevides told WBZ-TV.
Today, it’s a central part of Fall River on Bedford Street.
“My father built a really solid base with his community and the goal here was to honor that base,” Benevides said.
He was just 11 years-old when his father started in the business after immigrating from Portugal. In the last 10 years, the market has grown from 4,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet to reach a broader audience. The new space set in a renovated mill pays homage to Fall River’s long history.
“If it weren’t for the ethnic and Portuguese community that supported us over the course of that time, we would never have been able to make this leap.” Benevides told WBZ.
Portugalia brings the community’s favorites together all under one roof. Benevides was born in the Azores, a chain of islands far off Portugal, similar to Hawaii. One of the highlights in the market is the Portuguese tradition of bacalhau – dried and salted cod.
“The Portuguese have a massive love affair with salt cod,” said Benevides. “It’s a really big Christmas tradition. It’s very common on Christmas Eve to eat salt cod, even Christmas Day.”
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