“If it wasn’t for you guys I would’ve closed down my store. You gave me hope that I could still make something out of it."
Omar is passionate about constantly innovating and improving his store in order to cater to the needs of the community he serves. Being located in the Washington Neighborhood areas of the Downtown San Jose region, Omar serves a predominately low-income community. He has also been able to hire several residents from the community. First Street Market began moving more towards a grocery store that offered healthy items ranging from produce to healthy snacks and low sodium canned food. Omar genuinely cares about his customers and has truly incorporated the mission of making a healthy lifestyle more available to his community.
When Omar first started working with SBDC through the Healthy Corner Store program (HCS), he had just lost some of his stores and was about to give up on this one. He felt that no matter how many different strategies he attempted nothing seemed to improve his sales. He was asked to be a part of the Healthy Corner Store project and it felt like a seed of hope that maybe his business could still prosper. SBDC through HCS to begin incorporating healthy items. At first, sales on those items were slim to none. There was a bit of doubt in the success of the implementation of the program, but SBDC knew that his store has great potential and was dedicated to helping the business prosper.
SBDC began to help Omar with marketing strategies, permit applications and implementing an updated point of sales system to improve his track of sales and inventory. SBDC also assisted in attaining programs such as WIC and EBT. Omar was unaware of the important of increasing his online presence in order for customers to know about his store. As he became more encouraged to improve his store, he came up with the idea of adding a deli in order to offer prepared food to his customers. SBDC helped him apply to the get his permits and learn about the city and county regulations.
SBDC was able to help him attain a number of different grants. Today, he sells more produce than he does over any other item. His produce order has now increased. Due to the increase in revenue he has also been able to hire more staff for his store. Omar has become more than a quick stop for people who happen to pass by, he has become a location where the community feels they can access products they need at a low price.