Better Than Blessed

George and Lori Lucio

GEORGE: I want to save the consumer money and be honest. Business owners would say, you should move to the west side. I want to teach kids that it doesn't matter where you live. If I have a dream, I can show other kids they can do the same thing I am doing. It's hard to make a living for your family...I worked for independent retail stores and several days I would come home mad. I hate to say this but, the white man would always make me feel like I wasn't worthy. They wouldn't give me the raises. They were still paying me back like I was living in the 1970's. So it felt like every time I would go and pass out a statement to them, it always felt like either I wasn't worthy of it or I would ask for raises and they wouldn't give it to me. I would always argue and I would always feel bad. So I finally told myself this has always been my dream I'm over there serving the customer, I'm going back and fixing all of my repairs, I'm doing whatever it is supposed to take to service consumers, why can't I just go do this on my own. I mean, I am doing it for someone else. For many, many years, I just got sick and tired of trying to get paid the right way. Well I may as well do this on my own and still be able to save the consumer money. I will start a retail store, I'm going to be honest, I'm going to show people how we can save money and it just started happening like that. I had a warehouse...a little bitty storage on Ave A where I would order material there from my home and it got to where I couldn't storage the materials fast enough. What I started doing was shopping around and everybody kept saying if you're going to open up a store you need to go to the west side because you're going to make more money. I kept saying no because I need to be back into our neighborhood and community and stay here because if I have a dream I can show other kids that they can do the same things I am doing. I kept wanting to find a warehouse and then I got blessed with this building. My dad was always like follow your dreams and do whatever you want to do. This is a 6500 square foot building. I didn't even expect we would be in a space like this. I never even thought we'd be here, but now we can teach kids that it doesn't matter where you live. We are still on the west side every freaking day...every day. But the coolest thing is now we have people coming from the west side parking their cars here, and that's what I wanted to see. Instead of us going over there and servicing them, I want them to come see what's going on over here. We have people coming over here about every other day from the west side because they know we are going to save them money. We've been here 5 years and we've been very, very blessed. Most people just don't understand how blessed we've been.

LORI: We get a lot of people from the community come here and they come here because they say they want to support a local business, especially a business here on the east side.

GEORGE: Now we get to know who actually lives here in the community. We know our neighbors now. We've had so many pastors come into our building and retail store ...we know them personally now.

LORI: We've built relationships.

GEORGE: When we first moved here of course we kept hearing, you should've moved to the west side, you should've moved to the west side, you should've moved to the west side. And so it made us feel at first that maybe we're not doing the right thing. So when we did the overhead doors, I decided I was going to put a fence there. 2 or 3 days later, I told myself, you know what, I'm not even going to lock that fence. There's just no way, I'm not going to do it.

LORI: We have a lot of people from the neighborhood passing through to go to the store. We were like it's just going to upset them, they are not doing anything wrong. And we've never had anything stolen, vandalism or anything....praise God.

GEORGE: This is a big blessing here. I can't even describe it.

LORI: The neighbors in the back come and tell us about anything suspicious...They keep an eye out for us...

GEORGE: We have learned to communicate. I didn't even have to put that fence up back there. The worse thing that has ever happened to us in the last 5 years is someone stole the spare tire off of our trailer. That's the worst thing that has ever happened to us in our neighborhood. Being young and from the streets, you learn to adapt. There is a lot going on right now, but the community has been great. We've built a relationship. I just wish we could do more...I wish I could have a big sign lit up. Not to show off, but so the kids can say if Mr. Lucio can do it, one of these days I am going to do it. I want them to say, 'hey I am going to open up a store somewhere down the street. It doesn't matter where it's at, as long as I have a big sign like Mr. Lucio.'

GEORGE: You know, it does need to come back here. People say do you know it's only 1% that goes back into the community. I say, it doesn't matter, I mean 1% is 1%. I have had people make fun of me and say that's not even nothing. But yeah guess what, if I can leave my business to my family and generations down, that 1% is going to keep adding up.

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