The Mi Pueblo Food Center is opening its newest store in San Rafael, in the heart of an economically depressed area known as the Canal District. This is Mi Pueblo's 15th full service grocery store they have plans to open five more stores this year in Northern California. The newest is at the old vacant Circuit City building and you could say they are bringing electricity to the neighborhood.
Opening day at Mi Pueblo and the place is buzzing, the shelves are stocked and the employees are ready -- boy are they ready.
"For 200 positions that we had in the store, we had over 3,500 applications. So the folks who were hired to work here are extremely excited to finally be able to find a job - it hard these days," said Perla Rodriguez of Mi Pueblo Public Affairs.
One of those employees who is happy to be here is a man who says he spent a year in the throes of despair that unemployment can bring.
"I guess you could say that I was not really pulling my own weight and I was just kind of just dragging down my own family, I was just kind of just holding them back, and I'm really happy to have helped them out now," said Mi Pueblo employee Anthony Ascencio Beltran.
The store caters to San Rafael's growing Latino population. And add to that, there's been no grocery store in this neighborhood for years.
"We're trying to recreate that Latin America experience. If you travel to Latin America, or you grew up in Latin America, this is supposed to feel like home. We have a kiosk which are typically found in the center of a town, we have the façade of a church, we have beautiful windows and doors - things that are just very reminiscent of what you would find in another country," said Rodriguez.
It's a feeling that is not lost on its customers.
"Cause it has a lot of Mexican products or Hispanic products here. So it is very convenient, just go there pick up and leave," said a customer.
"I come to visit and I want to see what I am going to get and later I'm going to come back with my wife to buy what we need to get today," said Novato resident Blanca Pacheco.
By then end of this year Mi Pueblo will employ 2,000 people. More stores are possibly coming next year. Experts will tell you the future is in specialization and Mi Pueblo will tell you that is true.