We were thrilled to sit down with Dener Zacharias for our very first Doraville Small Business Spotlight in July! Mr. Zacharias is the owner of La Bendicion Market & Antojitos Guatemaltecos, a grocery store and taqueria located on Buford Highway. The business is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and we thought this would be a perfect time to ask a few questions about his business and why he chose to make Doraville home. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How did you decide to start your own business?
A: For my whole life, I’ve been doing business, with my father, my mother, as long as I can remember. I’ve lived in this country for more than 22 years now. We then saw an opportunity to do something bigger than what we were doing before and when the opportunity came, we decided to open here in Doraville.
Q: What would be your advice to someone looking to start their own business?
A: First, you have to see exactly what you need to do. Who are your customers? What are you trying to sell them? What exactly are you offering them? And that’s why, since I’m from Guatemala, I know that this is the right place for me to start one of my first businesses because we have such a strong Latino community here.
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business?
A: It was a hard time. We closed the business for about two months. It was really tough because our rent bills didn’t go away. There was nothing we could do about it. But we have to keep going. It turned out to be a moment for us to stay with family and we got through it. After two months, we opened again and it started picking up a little bit. It hurt at first but I think we’re doing pretty good right now.
Q: What could Doraville do differently to support your small business?
A: Help us out to grow more. If people can start younger, we can ask not just “what are you offering to my community,” but “what are you offering to others?” We have a lot of customers from all over the place and we have to know who we are serving and what we are doing here.
Q: How do you want to see your business grow over the next 10 years?
A: This is the first store we opened and eight months ago, we opened our second one. This Saturday, we have plans to open another one too. We see a lot of ways to keep growing.
Q: Is there anything you want to share with the city?
A: I see you all doing a lot of activities for our communities to teach them stuff and learn more about what the city does and how the city can be involved. That’s one of the good things you all have been doing and can be doing even more with COVID-19 affecting everything. My job is not always just to work on my business, it’s about working with the community. We always help out our customers when we can. It’s not just about the money, it’s about working with our families for our community.