Jose has been in retail for almost 20 years. He worked his way up from associate to assistant manager, and then to a manager’s position. While working at the state prison, Jose decided to open his own jewelry store, but after 15 years, health issues forced him to close. When he got better, he embarked on a new entrepreneurial venture: a tobacco shop.
“I’ve worked for the state for 18 years. I’ve already worked for someone else all my life. I want to work for myself,” Jose says. His main goal is to expand his business and retire.
His new business, Blue Frog, is a tobacco smoke shop, which sells a variety of tobacco products, pipes and incense.
Blue Frog is open seven days a week and closes late at 10 p.m. The shop carries all types of tobacco products, incense, and pipes.
Originally from Edinburg, Texas, Jose followed his dream and moved to nearby McAllen, where he says rent is more affordable. He says he found a shop close to downtown and is paying half of what he would have elsewhere. Though the shop has only been open for a month now, Jose says a competitor has already offered to buy him out. He says, “From what I heard from customers, my store is a lot cleaner. It’s the way we have it set up compared to the other stores that makes it different.”
A returning client of Accion Texas Inc, Jose remembered the microlender when looking for a loan, which he is using to purchase inventory. “I invested $8,000 to connect the light and water and I bought merchandise myself, but I needed more inventory. When I knew I needed a little more, I went to Accion,” he says. Without the loan, “I would have been stuck for a while. The merchandise that the customers were asking for, we didn’t have. Without the loan, I would still be waiting on the merchandise.”
Jose runs his business while still holding down his job at the prison. And he has one employee to help. “I’m really excited about this business,” he says. “I’ve been in retail before and now that I found someone to sell wholesale to me, I can succeed.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.