Local family opens new business downtown

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

When Armando Castaneda sold his business El Paraiso Latino after being in operation for 14 years in downtown Montevideo, he planned to enjoy an early retirement. “My father, being a very impatient man who can’t just sit around and relax was itching to get into another business or something,” says Armando’s son Jesse. The business sold in the summer of 2020, and around Thanksgiving, the family heard of an opportunity to purchase the former Ace Hardware building. “The opportunity came and it was a really good deal,” says Jesse.

So the family purchased the building, considering how they could utilize the space in the short and long term. “We were looking into maybe renting it out, or maybe doing something with it ourselves for now,” says Jesse. The deal was completed by early 2021, and the family worked together to look into possibilities for using the building, as Jesse says Armando wanted the building to be utilized right away, rather than sit empty. “I went to school for Architectural Drafting, and I was looking into renovation possibilities for the building down the line, but during the time in between my father said we needed to do something with the building,” Jesse says.

The family began exploring the possibility of working with inventory they knew members of the local Hispanic community sought to send overseas to family members. “We heard in the Hispanic community that people send clothes to their family members overseas quite a bit,” says Jesse. “During COVID, a lot of big chain stores throughout the company have been closing and so there have been people buying inventory at closeout sales to buy clothing cheap and send it overseas, but that was very chaotic how they were organizing that. If they heard of some large chain store closing, they would buy what they could and send a lot of clothing at once, whether it fit someone now or not, and then they’d send it to their families overseas and they’d either hold onto things for people to grow into or give it away to someone else. It was very disorganized. When we looked into it more, we found some distributors and bigger companies that manage close-out sales who sell those items to thrift stores and other smaller stores at highly discounted rates.” And so the idea formed that the family could purchase those items and sell them to the local community at highly discounted rates year-round, offering the opportunity for local community members to be able to purchase sought-after items at highly discounted rates any time.

“There’s a lot of small mom and pop shops opening up that run a similar model to what we are doing, but most of the objects they sell the customer, while they are at a good discount it’s still typically only ten to twenty percent off the market price,” Jesse adds. “We realized that the business could give bigger discounts to the people and still see a profit. We got into the idea that we could start purchasing inventory and selling it at closer to thirty to sixty percent off the market price.” With their plan formed, the family opened JC Discount Store on May 1st. 

The store offers a variety of items, with a focus on clothing. “It’s all new clothing - still has its tags,” says Jesse. “The cool thing is that all the clothing comes from larger department stores, so people can come in and recognize the brands from the mall and know that it’s a good product, good quality and then see that they’re getting the product for sometimes up to seventy-five percent off the retail price.”

Jesse says the idea has worked out well for the family. “We see that there’s a really good business model here, and business has been doing very well since we opened,” he says. “ It seems there’s an increase every week and people will come back often. We understand that some of the prices seem too good to be true, but we make a profit off of it, and the customer gets a great discount.” The store also includes shoes, accessories, toys, some hardware, cookware, electronics, and small appliances such as blenders. “It’s kind of scattered inventory, but it’s whatever we can get our hands on, and that we can offer with a good discount,” Jesse says. “Sometimes we get some gems like high-end headphones or really high-end vacuums, drills.” The store has even procured some limited edition NBA and NFL official jerseys. They plan to run some sales later in the summer and have been stockpiling inventory for winter so that they can switch over their inventory for the changing seasons quickly. 

Since May 1st, the store has operated in half of the floor space on the main level of the building, but in mid-June, they expanded their inventory enough to utilize all of the first level’s floor space. They are currently working on plans to renovate the second floor to create some office space. “That will possibly have a new business going into it,” Jesse says. In the future, the family would like to utilize that space to create a non-profit to help the community, especially the Hispanic community. “A couple of years in the future, the goal is to help the community more. One of the visions we have is to create a non-profit that helps with many of the things that are not understood. To help the community find the resources available for them and for their families,” Jesse says. 

“That’s something we are looking towards two to three years from now, but for now we’re focusing on the new business,” Jesse says. “If that is successful, hopefully someday we can be more involved with helping out the community.” For more information about store hours and to stay up-to-date on the store’s inventory, follow JC Discount store on their Facebook page or their website: jcdiscount.com.