DETROIT – Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month and Local 4 is celebrating a Mexican-American business that has spent years serving their community on Detroit’s west side.
It wasn’t Irma Fuentes plan to own a hardware shop in southwest Detroit on her own.
“It was very hard in the beginning,” Fuentes said. “It was very hard but I learned. I’m very pleased with my community. They’ve helped me a lot.”
“Every time they see something suspicious, they come and ask me, ‘Are you OK? Be careful,'” Fuentes said. “That’s why I like to be here, we are like a family.”
But despite community support. owning a hardware store as a female has its challenges
“Some men don’t respect us. For a woman to own a hardware store, I think is very bad because they think we don’t know anything,” Fuentes said.
She said she’s a quick learner and her loyal customers taught her everything she needed to know to be a savvy business owner at ESI Hardware.
“Sometimes I ended up with tears. Sometimes I felt stupid, ‘What an I doing here?’" Fuentes said. “But I feel very proud and I never regret I ended up with the store.”
And now that this hardware store has been around for 17 years, she takes great pride in seeing her young customers grow older.
“When I met kids who are young and now they are growing men, I feel very proud because I say ‘I’ve known you since you were little and now look at you working!’” Fuentes said.
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