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Carmen Montes and Carlos Barcenas contributed to this story.
Before settling in South Sioux City, Nebraska, Alejandro Macias grew up in San Julian, Jalisco, Mexico. His mother owned a pharmacy there and sold a wide variety of items along with medications and pharmaceutical products.
After 14 years in his new hometown, Alejandro came across an empty building that reminded him of his mother’s store, and he decided to stop and inquire about it.
“When I saw the building, all the ideas came to mind and reminded me of how much the building looked like my mom’s business,” said Alejandro. “With time, you start making different decisions and get an idea of what is needed.”
After working for an ice cream manufacturing company, Alejandro was ready for a change. He chose to follow in his mother’s footsteps and open his own store.
In October 2020, Alejandro opened the Old Barrel Grocery Store in South Sioux City, and now runs his business with the help of two employees, one full-time and one part-time.
They sell vegetables and other produce, along with everyday grocery items. Customers can also purchase liquor and pick up freshly made carnitas and fried tacos on the weekends.
Other services include money transfers to Mexico, and the rental of chairs, tables, and inflatable games.
“Meat is what sells the most, especially fajitas, and everything chicken, chorizo, and al pastor,” said Alejandro. “We also have a drive-thru, which no other store around here has.”
Several months ago, he found himself in need of financial assistance to help make some upgrades to his store.
After hearing about the Center for Rural Affairs from a friend, Alejandro decided to call and was able to secure a loan.
Veronica Spindola, Center’s Latino loan specialist, guided him through the process, and his loan was approved in April 2022.
“Alejandro is a very passionate and driven entrepreneur,” said Veronica. “He currently has several business projects going on at the same time. When he purchased his store, ‘Viejo Barril,’ as it is called among his Hispanic clients, he was very eager to improve the concept and offer different products and food services. He is always thinking of how to grow his business and implement new ideas to stand out among his competitors.”
Alejandro used his loan to buy equipment to make the store work more efficiently, offer more products, and improve the service to his clients.
“From a small grocery store owner to a multi-business entrepreneur, Alejandro's story exemplifies the rewards of perseverance and ambition,” Veronica said.
Alejandro is grateful for the Center’s support.
“The Center has assisted a lot of people, and working with them has been a good experience,” he said. “They are super helpful to business owners like me.”
Eventually, Alejandro would like to open an additional grocery store in a different location in South Sioux City, potentially where there is more customer traffic. He knows the Center can help when that time comes.
To others thinking of opening their own business, he offered this advice: Don’t listen to the negative comments, and the hard work is worth it.
“If you have a dream, follow it,” he said. “There are plenty of people [customers] here. Just make sure your business stands out. Negative comments come from people who have not ventured out and tried anything. I’m happy to open every day. We have to put in the work and treat people right so they come back.”
Need financing for new equipment for your business? Contact your regional loan specialist. Find yours at cfra.org/lending-staff.
At a glance
Old Barrel Grocery Store
Alejandro Macias Lopez
2301 Dakota Ave.
South Sioux City, Nebraska
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.