Marlen’s Gallery opens second location with SBA 504 loan

Picture of Owner, Marlen Saenz

When Marlen Saenz began selling picture frames at a local flea market 12 years ago, she never dreamed her little business would grow to where it is now especially after receiving a SBA 504 Real Estate & Equipment Loan for $1.3 million dollars.

Marlen explains how a divorced gentleman enjoyed her frames and needed to add a feminine touch to his house.   The gentleman enthusiastically asked her if she’d be willing to decorate his home, and the rest is history. Guests at his housewarming party for Thanksgiving soon asked for her services and from there she started decorating schools, hospitals, attorney’s offices and the courthouse in the small rural town of Rio Grande City. She does not charge her customers for this service as long as the furniture and accessories are purchased from her store.

After two years at the flea market, she leased a location in Rio Grande City, Texas for two years before finding her current location that she owner financed and has been at for more than eight years. Her business has grown from just herself to eight full time employees and she recently closed on a building in McAllen where eventually she will hire an additional twelve employees for that location.

Marlen’s “new” Gallery in McAllen is a 31,240 square foot facility and is located at 1000 E Hwy 83.  The new home will accommodate her beautifully selected pieces, home accessories, oil paintings and will also highlight her one of a kind furniture exclusively designed by her, plus so much more.

“The $1.3M SBA 504 loan allowed me to purchase the building and make renovations,” Marlene said. “I am confident that had it not been for the flexibility with only a ten percent investment and the fixed interest rate, it would have been harder to get the financing I needed through commercial lending.”

Although she does have challenges with competing with larger furniture stores, she said it is not a huge obstacle as many of the larger wholesalers now open the doors to her because she has made her furniture store reputable.  She has also had to overcome a few difficulties such as being a “woman” as most of all the local competitive store owners are male, as well as not being from the area because although she was born in the United States she was raised in Monterrey, Mexico.

When asked what the greatest benefit of owning her own business Marlene says that it’s having the flexibility to be her own boss but also loving and enjoying what she does. “I feel as though I would be a different person if I did something I didn’t like,” Marlene stated.

Her advice to others considering going into business is “No se detengan, dale por adelante”, which translates to “Do not stop, move forward”, always be involved in the business just because you are the boss doesn’t mean you stay out of the daily coming and goings and last but not least grow to where you want, there are no limits and no boundaries to make your dreams a reality, fight for what you want and don’t stop believing in your dreams.

Company Name: 
Marlen’s Gallery
Location: 
405 E. 2nd St., Rio Grande City, Texas