Category Archives: Retail

Big Boots Are Filled

In the mid-1990s, Carlos Rodriguez found himself back in his native Mexico. He had an industrial engineering degree in hand, but with an economy in tatters, he found no real jobs in his field. “I had no job, no car, no nothing, but a lot of enthusiasm to start a new adventure,” he recalled. Rodriguez had just returned from Canada. Here he took intensive English classes in Vancouver to bolster…

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CarMax Opens in Pharr

The largest retailer of used vehicles, CarMax, is now open in Pharr. The first location in the Rio Grande Valley and the 22nd in Texas. CarMax was welcomed by City of Pharr officials and the Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce with a ribbon-cutting ceremony  June 13. CarMax offers more than 300 used vehicles. It also offers customers the ability to choose vehicle transfers from any other CarMax location in the country.…

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McAllen Inventor Makes Hanging Up EZ

Juan Guerrero of EZ Stud Finder

Juan Guerrero has the mind of an engineer … analyzing, probing, figuring out a problem in using a well-honed process. “I do enjoy having projects that interest me,” said Guerrero, a retired electrical engineer with more than 20 years in the maquiladora industry for companies like Zenith and TRW. One idea that Guerrero latched on to came about when spending time with construction workers and carpenters who were building his…

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Bootique Creates Retail Niche

Chrissy Santana arranges merchandise in the Bootique’s newly created western wear section. (VBR)

The history of a legendary Rio Grande Valley bootmaker provides the backdrop for the Bootique, a clothing and gift shop in downtown Raymondville. The store is in a portion of the brick building where Abraham Rios crafted custom footwear for decades. The building’s current owners, Cruz and Sonya Tijerina, ran the Bootique until they sold the business to Elma Chavez, former director of the Raymondville Chamber of Commerce. The Tijerinas…

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Natives Grow in Popularity

Mike Heep surrounds himself with hardy native plants known to attract birds and butterflies. (VBR)

Mike Heep spends his days cultivating native plants and educating people about the benefits of using indigenous vegetation in gardens and landscaping projects. Native plants are drought and freeze tolerant, and attract the birds and butterflies for which the Rio Grande Valley is famous. In 1964, Heep moved from San Antonio to the Harlingen area with his family. He operates Heep’s Nursery on the same two-acre tract where he grew…

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Growth of a Spirited Business

To stay competitive, Holiday Wine and Liquor owner David Hernandez’s Rio Grande Valley business evolved from selling cold beer to a chain of full-service liquor stores. (VBR)

Fresh out of college at 23 years of age, David Hernandez saw an opportunity and then seized it. With $30,000 in hand from his relatives, Hernandez used it as seed money to open the first of what would become 12 Pop-A-Top stores in the Rio Grande Valley. The yellow stores with blue trim became ubiquitous across the region. “Coldest Beer In Town” was the Pop-A-Top signature line and Hernandez meant…

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Fresh, Tasty Tale of Success

Francesca and Carlos Hernandez team up as the beauty and the beast behind the success of a healthy food company. (Courtesy)

A beauty and beast team is riding a wave of success of almost fairy tale proportions with a line of fresh, healthy meals and other related products. On a good week, Beauty & Beast Cuisine cooks and packages in the neighborhood of 27,000 meals in its Edinburg kitchen. “It’s just been an explosion of opportunity,” said Carlos Hernandez, the beast in the partnership with his wife, Francesca, the beauty. “It…

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Selling the Love of Music

Matt Perez and his wife, Debra, operate Valley Keyboards in McAllen with a passion for music. (VBR)

A lifelong devotion to the love of music drives the success of a Rio Grande Valley business that has shared that passion for more than four decades. “Everything we do and continue to do flows from our love and passion for music and music education,” said Matt Perez, president and chief executive officer of Valley Keyboards of McAllen. His wife, Debra, manages the education department of the company, which is…

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Converting Art to Boots

Henry Camargo in his shop working over leathers.

Henry Camargo dispenses with any high-tech gadgetry when it comes to making boots. After five decades of stitching, sewing, hammering and stretching leathers to make boots for celebrities and common folk alike, Camargo said he’ll stick to the time-tested basics of the craft. “I’m old school,” Camargo said at his Mercedes shop Camargo’s Western Boots on Business 83. “I do everything by hand.” By his side is his brother, Santos,…

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Upscale SPI Boutique Prospers

Barbara’s owner Remedios Villarreal takes care of work at the counter among merchandise on display. (VBR)

Some businesses come and go like the wind. Others not only survive but stay alive and prosper despite enduring one obstacle after another. Barbara, an upscale boutique on South Padre Island, falls in the latter category. The shop, owned by Remedios Villarreal, has been in business for nearly half a century and has been doing remarkably well after all those years. “I am still running Barbara,” she said. “It was…

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