Diaspora Feature Story

When a business is not all about money

By Abner Galino

Blesilda Brucelas at Little Blessings shop. Photo by Abner Galino

BEING your own boss and hustling your way to make bigger money through a business idea is normally how it works.

But couple Giovanni and Blesilda Mejia-Brucelas of San Jacinto, California – who are threading separate careers in health care – were not exactly driven by these motives when they recently opened up a new business.

Also, they actually embarked on a kind of business that did not align with their core competencies. They decided to open up a thrift shop, specifically carrying gently used children’s clothing, toys and other accessories.

Well, on second thought, Blesilda being a mother of four kids – one of them is still a two-year-old boy – should know a lot about children’s stuff. And upping that motherly knowledge to an entrepreneurial sense wasn’t that hard.

Fortuitously, Blesilda need not build a store for her new venture as she has enough space to run her thrift shop in the office where she also holds her home health staffing business. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.

I’ve always wanted to have a thrift store. I’m a thrifty person and I like the idea of saving money on anything. I would love to share the same opportunity to mothers like me by providing them option to do so,” Blesilda said.

And I’d like to give a boutique experience with yard sale prices.”

For his part, Giovanni – the better half – provided the sales pitch for their new endeavor: “Children clothes are very expensive yet they are slightly used. So this is an option against paying large amount of money for new clothes that your kids would barely use because they grow out of them so fast. We have a big family so we have the luxury of passing down the clothes from one baby to another. Not all families have that option.”

At this early, Giovanni and Blesilda, who are both devout Christians, are already sold to the idea that their new endeavor would not, by its nature, reap them a windfall.

I’ve done some math and I know that the profitability part of this endeavor isn’t that exciting. But what is exciting though, is the probability of helping other mothers like me save a lot of money by offering quality goods for a lot less. I handpick everything I put in the store and I wouldn’t put anything I wouldn’t want for my own children,” Blesilda said.

Just a day after opening her thrift shop’s door, an expectant mother came in —with her two little ones — wanting to swap her single-seat stroller for a double stroller in the store, which was already tagged at a bargain price. She said she could not afford to pay the difference so she wanted to see if she could do an even swap.

Blesilda knew that it didn’t make good business sense to do the even swap, but she also knew that it was an opportunity to bridge the gap for this mom. So she took in the single-seat stroller and gave the double stroller away.

What happened was an exception to the rule, but Blesilda said she wasn’t scared to break her own rules.

I believe that God has given me this store as an opportunity to serve the underserved. I always consider it a blessing when I am presented with opportunities to help someone in dire need,” Blesilda said.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still business and it has to make financial sense for me to run it – but I like the idea of making money on the side, being able to bless others, yet have a lot of fun in the process. What more could I ask for? After all, this is a season in my life where I get to do exactly what I enjoy doing without the fear of failing. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world,” she added.

By the way, the shop is at 1520 S San Jacinto Avenue # 9, San Jacinto, CA 92583. Telephone no. 951-800-2275.


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Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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