48 years and counting every blessing
The neighborhood store isn't just for people who live in the neighborhood. When the service is good, the products are always available and of the best quality, word of the neighborhood store spreads and the store turns into a place where the owner and the employees "know your name."
Mario Herrera has been the owner of Mario's Grocery Meat Market for 48 years and worked at the store before it was his. He purchased the business, located at 502 South Texas Boulevard, from his uncle Lee Salinas when it was still Lee's Grocery and Market.
"I worked here when I was a little boy. I had always asked him if he ever wanted to sell his business to give me a chance," Mario said. "So on New Year's Eve 1973, he gave me the keys and I gladly opened up my own business the very next day. My first sale was Bruce Apple Pie to a young man...We've been here for 48 years now. Our main deal is to work well with our customers and provide the quality meat that they require."
Mario's Meat Market is a family affair. His late wife, Gracie, was a big part of the business especially after she retired from nursing until her death two and a half years ago. Mario's son, Adrian, his daughter-in-law, Priscilla, and their grandchildren and even his 5-year-old great-granddaughter help with the store.
"I know we've been blessed. We've been blessed because we give the people an atmosphere of the old days when customer service was important. Remember when you would go to the gas station and get the full service as they pumped your gas? That's the same service we strive to provide our customers," Mario said. "We're like the show Cheers because when you walk in we know your name. We always receive our customers with good manners and we make sure everyone is treated fairly. The way they should be."
Over the last 48 years Mario has had to adapt to the ever-changing economy and attributes his business success to prayer, along with his family and his loyal customers.
Customers who shop at Mario's Grocery and Meat Market can get everything from candy, paper plates, charcoal and don't forget the meat. They have fajitas, steaks, chicken and will even process meat for hunters.
"We've been blessed and that's the main thing. We've gone through hard times especially back in the 80's and 90's, but we survived," Mario said. "We pray. When times are hard, we pray. We pray to the Lord and St. Jude to help us out."
Mario thanks his customers from Alice and surrounding towns.
"They look to us for products they need and services. Our customers keep us in business and we thank them for their support over the years," Mario said. "If God's willing we will continue to be part of the community as we help them with meals for their special events."