Up in his son’s second floor office, Francisco Pulido pulls out a book of family photos. He then smiles at the sight of a skinny 19-year-old youth.
“That’s me,” he said, pointing to himself in the late 1970s, standing in front of a record store in Nuevo Progreso.
He was a young entrepreneur then. He was the son of Tamaulipas farmers, opening up a record shop in a town already popular with both Winter Texans and local residents. They prized Nuevo Progreso’s easy accessibility across an international bridge.
“Asi empece,” said Pulido, a Nuevo Progreso native, in saying how he got started in business.
The shoe box-sized records and cassette store of 1979 represents the origins of a business operation that today bills itself as offering the largest variety and quantity of curios along the Mexican border. It boasts of 50,000 square feet of space with thousands of handmade items and products that come from every part of Mexico.
It’s El Disco Super Center. It has gone far beyond selling records even as it has kept the original mission of the business in its name. There are two components to Pulido’s business brand. One is in Nuevo Progreso, where he has a sprawling and connected one-stop shopping experience with Mexican arts and crafts. The location also features a restaurant and bar, and a pharmacy long favored by winter tourists and year-round residents. The other piece is a 20,000-square-foot-plus El Disco on the U.S. side in Progreso Lakes, which offers a dazzling array of Mexican curios.
“He has done the impossible,” said Pulido’s son, Daniel Cancino, who manages the Progreso Lakes store. “To start with a little record shop and turn it into all of this, it’s an incredible story.”
Work Ethic Defines Success
Cancino is in his early 30s. He describes a work life where it’s a challenge to keep up with his stepfather who is twice his age.
“The thing with him is that he works every day,” Cancino said of Pulido. “So if you’re going to work with him or for him, you know that you have to get to work.”
Pulido, in giving a tour of his Progreso Lakes store, walks through aisle after aisle of Mexican curios. The products on the shelves represent states from throughout Mexico, he said, and thus reflect the diverse cultures of his country.
“We work the whole republic,” Pulido said of his frequent trips to Mexico to purchase products. “You have to understand that Mexico has many different cultures and each culture is represented in the products they make.”
Every item in Disco is handmade, he said. They are from Mexican families and businesses he has dealt with for years and has also helped in seeing them grow over time.
“We bring a little piece of Mexico here,” Cancino said of the Progreso Lakes store that opened in 2013. “That was the vision we brought over when people were fearful to cross over.”
Establishing Success In The U.S.
Pulido said much of that concern is mostly no longer among U.S. shoppers. Those fears of crossing the bridge pushed him to open a Rio Grande Valley location just south of Weslaco. The businessman has lived for years here with his wife, Smiria, who co-owns the family businesses.
The Mid Valley-area store has also become a popular spot in its own right on the way to and from Nuevo Progreso. One shopper on El Disco’s Facebook page shared photos of her backyard with over 60 curios and vases she purchased at El Disco.
“Love the store,” another shopper commented. “It has an amazing selection.”
Pulido has ambitions to further expand beyond the border and the Valley. The rustic furniture he sells at his Progreso Lakes store is popular with Texas ranchers for their sprawling estates. He’s finding a market for this style of furniture beyond this state with a reach into the Southwest United States. He hopes to open a store in Colorado Springs featuring Mexican-made ranchland furniture.
“One way or the other,” Cancino said of his stepfather taking on new challenges, “you know he will get it done.”