In a previous post, I talked about my favorite neighborhood grocery store, the Super Mercado Mexico. I contacted the Martinez family that owns the store, and they were kind enough to answer some questions for me. Here is the interview with Fernando Martinez Jr.
How long have you been in business?
My family started the business in Oak Cliff in 1977. From there they were able to expand the business to the three current stores in Oak Cliff, East Dallas, and Pleasant Grove.
Has your business been affected by the current economic crisis?
Like everyone else, we’ve felt the effects of the crisis. Customers have become more concerned with buying only the essentials that they need, and they often forego certain supplemental goods that they used to buy regularly. We see that they may opt to buy unmarinated meat to save the money that they can, buy ingredients for salsa instead of buying premade, stuff like that.
What changes have you had to make?
We’ve had to be more scrutinizing in the products we recieve from larger companies. We have to make sure that the products we sell are affordable, but still mainain the quality that the customer expects and needs. We cater to the current spending ability of the consumer, but we keep the same service and quality that keeps people coming back smiling.
When Fiesta opened, many thought that would be the end of your neighborhood supermarket. Is there any benefit to being a smaller neighborhood store than a larger chain?
Fiesta affected us when it first opened, we knew it would. At first, we did see a loss of business. Whenever a large store like that opens, it’s natural that the excitement and appeal of such a large establishment will take away some of your clientele. Ultimately though, they found that at our store, they could find something that Fiesta couldn’t offer. They came back to us because they know that we provide authentic foods, the flavor that people of our culture know and want. They know we provide the best customer service, preparing cuts of meat made to order, and always with more care to the quality of the meats that a large chain cannot provide.
What have you done to set yourself apart from the larger chains?
Again, we can only give what we can, and we do the best we can at it. The reason our stores exist and are still visited by customers is because we are very concerned with keeping the customer happy. The quality of the cuts and the attention given to the customers are our highest priorities.
What have you done to keep your current customers coming back? For me it is the fact that you make some of the best tortillas.
Yeah, the tortillas are a crowd pleaser. Actually, weekends usually bring people from the suburbs who come to the city to visit family, and they stop by just to buy tortillas and marinated meat. They tell us “we came all the way from…just to get these, they’re amazing.” But as for the people from the neighborhood, the stores provide them that “mom and pop” feel and give them exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to preparation and quality.
How do you see the future for your business?
Despite the current crisis, we’re pretty optimistic. The stores will always remain a family run establishment meant to cater to the neighborhood. Our reason for being there is to provide a service to the community, and if we can do that, then we’re happy.