Rancho Mendoza Impacts Latino Community

Imagine the possibilities of selling the largest variety of Mexican, Central and South American-style foods to a growing population, selling products not found in chain stores. In Santa Rosa, Latinos represent about 31% of the city's residents. Menlo alumnus Juan Carlos Gamino, at 31, is tapping into that growing demographic. Besides offering delectable Latin American favorites, including traditional Oaxacan breads conchas and puerquitos, his markets provide a cultural experience and a friendly community hub, filling an economic niche and bringing a competitive edge to the food business.

Gamino owns two Rancho Mendoza Supermercado stores in Santa Rosa. Born in Redwood City, Juan comes from a family of food merchants in the Bay Area and Central Valley, including his uncle Juvenal Chavez, the owner of Mi Pueblo, a chain of 19 Latino-themed supermarkets, and another uncle, David Chavez, owner of seven Chavez Supermarkets in the Bay Area. It was there, in the Redwood City market, where Juan learned the business. At 17, he introduced new computer technologies into the store, like scanner scales, check-cashing software, and tools to help price inventory. Juan is a 2001 graduate of the Professional Studies Program where he combined business and information technology as a foundation for his first store in 2007.

Juan does give some credit for his success to his Menlo business degree. He remembers a few things from Professor Craig Medlen, who frequently said that since medieval times, there have always been landlords, peasants or serfs, and Juan decided then to be a landlord. He saved his money, bought residential duplexes, and sold them at the peak of the real estate market, growing capital to open his first store. So far, he is achieving his ambitious goals, as the owner of two supermarkets in Santa Rosa and a check-cashing business in Oakland, where he and his partner have systems in place for reconciliation and transactions on line.

“In order to compete in the grocery business, you need technology in place to control inventory, sales, and reports. In my stores, everything is scanned, with electronic check conversion, no hard copies, and all electronic files, therefore no deposit with a voucher.” He uses a biometric system, where the customer inputs a fingerprint to process paychecks to avoid fraud, using “Check 21 technology.” The Check Clearing Act of the 21st Century, known as Check 21, took effect in October, and has revolutionized banking for companies and customers.

His story is one of many successful alumni achievements where the Menlo Advantage enhances innovative business practices, and can lead to a significant change in the community. Imagine what lies ahead for this young entrepreneur!