A Small Business Success in South Phoenix

South Phoenix Video.  Just another run down hole in the wall place to find on Central Ave.  As one approaches this shoddy place, one realizes that there is something slightly different from the average video store.  The titles and words on the advertisement posters are mostly in Spanish!  I know that I can’t remember the last time I saw Shanghai Noon advertised in any language besides English!  We entered the store and were absolutely surrounded by movies until we reached the front desk.  Maria Alvarez, the owner, was at the counter and more than willing to talk to us.  She had a degree from ASU and seemed to sympathize with us. 

            The store has been open for twenty years and Maria has owned it for twelve.  When she bought the store, she had only 1500 movies.  Now she has 10,000 movies for rent and 3,000 for sale.  The only way Maria has overcome the trials of Blockbuster and Hollywood video is by carrying both Spanish and English titles.  Most new releases are either dubbed or subtitled in Spanish.  Being located in South Phoenix requires one to cater to the Hispanic population in order to be successful. 

            Maria believes that South Phoenix is a very complicated area.  So, she moved to Texas and runs her businesses by flying back and forth (she also has a video store in Texas).  There is a lot of money and a lot of jobs in South Phoenix.  It is in much better shape than ten years ago.  Maria says that about 30% of the Hispanic population, including illegals have started their own businesses.  Everyone wants to live the ‘American life.’  There are lots of people from Mexico.  80% of them are wonderful people willing to contribute to society.  The other 20% are “oh my god,” according to Maria.  South Phoenix is growing so fast that it is hard to keep up.  It is too congested already, and the new developments going in are only going to make that worse.  Maria doesn’t understand why South Phoenix is so desirable all of a sudden.  I wonder the same thing.  South Phoenix was run down and forgotten about for so long, why all of this new development? 

Above: Maria and Carlos at the counter.