I moved to Portland from Guatemala in 1993 after my family left everything to pursue safety from the violence of our country's civil war. Since leaving, I have returned just once, but I have always missed the flavors of home and working in my grandparents' and parents' grocery stores. Since arriving to the US, I have been working hard in grocery stores, where I feel most at home, to support my family. I currently work at a local Fred Meyer, which has given me a stable job and an opportunity to learn about the industry here in Portland, so I can pursue the opportunity to own my own store. My personal story parallels my long-time goal to start a family grocery and produce business, and to carry on my family's tradition as business owners and providers of food to our community. This vision will help my family connect to our heritage and create a stronger connection to the place we now consider home, Portland.
At Kaah Market we sell ocal and tropical produce and grocery products in the Portland Mercado, the first Latino public market in Portland. My biggest challenge has been to find an affordable retail space here in Portland to carry out my family tradition of owning grocery stores. I have wanted to start this business for a long time, but didn't have the opportunity until about 6 months ago when Hacienda CDC offered me space and resources to get started in the Portland Mercado, which will be opening in Spring, 2015. I will provide quality products and culturally specific items to the neighborhoods surrounding the Portland Mercado and the Latino population living here in the city. My customers will be both Latinos and Portlanders (one in the same!) who live near the Mercado and around the Portland Metro region.
My goal for the near future is to begin small at the Portland Mercado, and to then explore options to grow into a larger space that can provide more local products and create more jobs. I really see this is a stepping stone to connect with my cultural heritage, as well as the culture of Portland. I feel proud that I have the opportunity to start this business in a way that supports my family and connects me to a very important project for the Latino community living in Portland.