Boyle Heights businesses battle crime

Small business owners report waiting months for help from city on homelessness

Carlos Mora, storeowner of Pepe’s Thrifty shop works to overcome challenges facing small businesses in Boyle Heights. Photo by Brenda Mwingira.

Brenda Mwingira, Community News Reporter

Boyle Heights’ small businesses would thrive if it weren’t for crime and other issues related to the housing crisis.

That’s according to local business owners like Carlos Mora, whose family has owned Pepe’s Thrifty Shop in Boyle Heights for 30 years.

Mora shared some major challenges and possible solutions in a recent interview with UT Community News.

When did your business begin and what kind of products or services does your business provide?

“My parents actually started the business about 30 years ago. It is a family business so right now it’s just me and my parents. We pretty much offer everything for the home in terms of modern, vintage and antiques and we also offer repairing services for their appliances like refrigerators and other home electronics. We have a very good clientele, which is mostly movie companies and TV/films who would come in and buy like 50 things for their sets.”

Where do you get your stuff? Do people bring them in or do you get them somewhere in particular?

“We get stuff from different places. We have vendors when it comes to appliances, we also have people come in and we take donations, so a little bit from everywhere. Most of the stuff is going to be secondhand, at least 99% of it is. The way we set prices on items is by checking them online and we actually place it at a fourth of what it actually costs online.”

How long have you been in this particular location and what are some few challenges that you as a business owner in this neighborhood face?

“My parents have been in this location for about 25 years. The biggest issue in this neighborhood is homelessness. I’m sure you have seen some outside in the streets and because of that, I  don’t know if it’s because people are not making enough money in the area and become homeless, but that also causes robberies in most of the businesses around.”

Has that issue ever affected your business in particular?

“It has not affected us personally, because our store is pretty much locked up when it comes to security but the restaurant next door has suffered robbery and also the market next to us.”

Have you ever tried to present the issue to your local government or city council?

“Yes, I actually contacted the city online and pretty much let them know that that has been an issue, that homelessness…They mentioned that they were going to try and solve the issue by helping them so that they can move from the area and actually put them in like a housing facility but it hasn’t happened yet. They are still there and it has been months.”

What methods do you use to promote your business?

“As far as the business goes, we’ve actually included within the last two years selling online, we have done Facebook Marketplace, we have utilized basically other platforms like Instagram…That has actually helped us a lot.”