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Alabama Small Business Development Center Network

Mexicana San Juditas

Mexicana San Juditas Alabama SBDC Success StoryThe Alabama Small Business Development Center started creating educational opportunities in Spanish during the summer of 2022 at the request of a community organizer who had been managing a social media outreach group and noticed the desire of the community to understand how to form and operate a business in Alabama legally.  Since then, clients have started referring friends and family to obtain services in Spanish. The center director of the Alabama SBDC at Troy University, Juliana Bolivar, created presentations and marketing material in Spanish that could allow the program to connect with the Spanish-speaking community in the Wiregrass area.

During a weekend stop in Ariton, Dale County, Bolivar visited a Mexican store downtown, dropped a brochure, and started a conversation about their great products – especially their fruit popsicles. A few days later, she was contacted by Laura Flores, one of the owners of this family-owned and operated business. Her family owned 2 locations of the Mexicana San Juditas, one in Eufaula and one in Ariton. Laura and her family wanted to grow and add a third location in Troy, but had questions about business regulations for food establishments. For them, navigating the licensing process represented a challenge in expanding into a bigger municipality.

After their first conversation, Juliana started obtaining the forms and explaining to local officials their plan to find the required type of health permit. She explained to the owners the steps, the cost, and the length of the process.  After receiving support & guidance from the Alabama SBDC at Troy University, and with firm knowledge of how they would comply with local regulations, Lara was confident that Mexicana San Juditas would be able to secure a new location in Troy.  Bolivar provided support by translating during their health inspection and completing their paperwork.

When they opened the doors of their mini-market and ice cream/popsicle bar, Juliana recommended they keep working on their marketing, as they had established a brand identity that tells their story through their faith. Juliana noted that the company’s digital marketing strategy still needed some work. She involved Yadira “Yari” Colon-Lopez, SBDC marketing consultant, who started providing support on creating separate Google My Business listings for each store and training the managers of each of the stores to create a uniform tone and identity among the three different social media accounts managed by each of them to communicate with their customers.

During their conversations, Laura mentioned that she wanted to keep growing and not only attract Hispanic customers but also serve as a convenient grocery store for all community members transiting Highway 231, Troy’s main thoroughfare. They started working on a marketing strategy that will include flyers in English with professional photos taken by the communications team at Troy University and some signage suggestions that will help other market segments discover the store.

Recently, the Mendez-Flores family started to work with the SBDC on their new business idea: They own a building with a fully equipped commercial kitchen in Ariton that they would like to start using as a commissary kitchen for food trucks in the area. Their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to succeed is a great strength for any new business, but now they know they have the support of the Alabama SBDC to help them navigate the process.


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