Garcia’s Latin Market (GLM), Morgantown’s only Latin Market, is “Sharing Culture” with WVU students and Morgantown residents. GLM has market shelves stuffed with unique and hard to find ingredients and specialty items like premium tortilla chips and fresh corn and flour tortillas, and more recently has been making authentic daily specials, announced through their Facebook page.
Ralph Garcia, one-third of GLM’s ownership team and West Virginia native, found entrepreneurship later in life. He started
his career in Texas as a teacher and coach. West Virginia brought him home when his mother fell ill and he landed a vice principal position in the Albert Gallatin School District. The other two-thirds of the ownership team, his wife Amy and daughter Jennifer, presented Ralph with an idea that would drastically change his career.
The Garcia family regularly hosted WVU international students and saw them struggle to find products from their country. This led them to the idea of opening Garcia’s Latin Market. Ralph took an early retirement and joined his family in the venture.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and AARP have a collaborative agreement to foster relationships with Encore Entrepreneurs, as they are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. Currently, there are over 76 million people over the age of 50 in the country, and many of them, like Ralph, are interested in, and poised to be entrepreneurs. One in four Americans between the ages 44 and 70 are interested in starting their own business or nonprofit venture in the next five to 10 years.
Show me the money!
The Garcia family had the idea of “sharing culture” but needed funding to fulfill it. After being directed to the West Virginia Small Business Development Center by their accountant, the Garcia’s worked with Sharon Stratton, Business Coach, on cleaning up their business plan and she directed them to First Microloan of West Virginia to obtain an SBA Microloan. West Virginia’s Small Business Development Center is funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
SBA’s Microloan program provides loans, up to $50,000, to small businesses through more than 100 lenders nationwide. The program also provides business-based training and technical assistance to micro-borrowers to help them successfully start or grow their business.
“Sharon has been there for us through the entire process, she introduced us to the First Microloan of West Virginia, and it just felt right,” states Ralph.
“Ralph is very open to suggestions and implements ideas quickly,” states Tim James, Loan Officer with First Microloan of West Virginia.
Time to call a new play!
GLM opened what they call “Phase One” of their business in 2011, on Pleasant Street. However, due to difficult parking, the business was struggling and the retired coach knew it was time to adjust and call a new play before they were in trouble financially. For “Phase Two” Ralph worked with Tim to refinance his loan so the team was able to move their business to High Street. In addition to a new location, GLM started serving authentic cuisine. Daily specials include items such as Chipotle Lime Chicken Tacos, Texas Chopped Beef Tacos, and special orders for Tamales.
Due to the help and SBA financing GLM received, and their hard work and dedication, they now are looking for their first part-time employee.
Small businesses interested in learning more about programs and services offered by the SBA can visit www.sba.gov/wv for more information.
This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by SBA of any opinions, products or services of any private individual or entity. All of SBA’s programs and services are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.