JUNIATA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney congratulated José Gómez on the expansion of his grocery business in December, 2021. Gómez opened the Juniata Supermarket in a larger space in North Philadelphia.
Gómez says he's "very happy" about the achievement.
"Thirty years ago, I planned on making my own business. I started with a little one," he said. "I got a supermarket and work and work and work."
Gómez named his grocery after the neighborhood where he's lived for about 15 years, but he originally hails from the Dominican Republic.
"I just come to United States for job," he said. "I started work in grocery store and that's what I do all my life for about 40 years."
Since growing his store, he says he's able to offer more of the products people in the community appreciate, like malanga.
Gómez says the store carries food to please all people in the community, offering not only American produce, but more tropical produce too. He says that's "because the neighborhood is a Spanish and Caribbean neighborhood."
Jennifer Rodríguez, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says Gómez "fills a niche," offering food not usually found at mainstream grocers.
"We have an immigrant community in Philadelphia that is growing," she said.
Rodríguez says that the Juniata community has become increasingly Latino and "so it's important for them to feel welcomed." She says Gómez makes the community feel welcomed through the brands he carries and the service he provides to them.
"They need a store around the neighborhood they live in," said Gómez.
At the store, customers can find everything from cactus to sofrito.
"We try to get the best price and give it to the people," said Gómez.
"There are about 12,000 Latino-owned businesses in Philadelphia," said Rodríguez. "And our focus is to support them so that they can scale up."
She says the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also wants to help Latino-owned businesses maximize their contribution in the economy.
Gómez says he employs about 100 people, creating much needed jobs in the community.
Rodríguez says having people like Gómez invest in Philadelphia "is something that we should be celebrating."
"He really is an inspiration," she said.
At the age of 70, Gómez says he has no plans to slow down. He works right alongside his employees, creating a work environment that feels more like family.
"I do so many things in my life to get something like this. When you get it, you enjoy it," he said.
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