by Ramiro Gomez
Western & Mexican Center
It’s hard to believe that the Western & Mexican Center, formerly Little Mexico Imports, has been open for 42 years this month! Time sure flies when you’re having fun!
Our story starts in Mexico. My father had many stores in Tijuana, Mexico and I had worked in them when I was a child and eventually acquired 3 stores of my own. Unfortunately, I was young and carefree at the time and I lost all but one of those stores. During that time I met a young lady who lived in Boulder City. I made a few trips to visit, and I fell in love with the town and in love with the young lady. I married Petra in 1960 at the old St. Andrews church on Wyoming Street. We returned to Mexico to live, but things didn’t work out and I let my last store go and came back to Boulder City a year later with $30 in my pocket. Upon arriving, I started working as a busboy at the Stardust Hotel earning $1.25 per hour.
Our business venture started in late September of 1965. At that time I was working at Hydro Conduit, a Henderson cement plant, making $2.65 per hour. We had four young boys, ages 1 4, at home. To start our business we had to borrow money from a credit union. My brother Felipe was bringing hand made goods from Mexico and selling them throughout California, so I asked him to come to Boulder City and bring me some merchandise. The monthly rent for the store was $65, but it was equivalent to $2,000 in present dollars. That is how our business venture called Little Mexico Imports began.
Shortly after opening the store, I got laid off from the plant. This was a blessing in disguise; now I could devote more time to my new business. For many years the store was open seven days a week. Some days we wouldn’t sell anything, but slowly we made progress and business remained steady. In 1974, an opportunity to open a second store (our current location) became available. With a lot of faith and many prayers we opened the second store. Now we were paying rent on two properties! Things were working out and in 1976 we had the chance to purchase this building. Our payments were much higher, so we had to work harder and make adjustments. God is so merciful, kind and just, that he granted us the ownership of the store now known as the Western & Mexican Center.
We are also well known for one of our signs that displays a unique slogan that I borrowed from my brother Felipe from his store in Tijuana. You may have heard the slogan or seen the sign as you cruise Boulder City: “Dead Cows For Sale.” This particular sign carrying our unique slogan has been seen on national television and also in numerous magazines.
One of our favorite rewards from the store is the long lasting friendships we have made with people from all over the world. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing all of the people that continue to visit us and spread the word about this little shop in Boulder City, and the generations of families and friends that return to see us year after year. Our many friends hail from places like Germany, Spain, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, China, Japan, the Philippines, Brazil, Italy, Croatia, Russia, Poland and Mexico. And of course, the many people from our own great country all across America.
Over the years we have managed to communicate in so many languages. It may be through expressions, hand gestures, or signing. We have a wonderful collection of foreign money that our friends from all over the world have given us. It is a welcome feeling for tourists to see the money from their country displayed in our store. If there is a foreign bill that we do not have, there is always someone who signs and dates one of his or her own bills for us to hang on our wall. In our 42 years of business, we have come to realize how wonderful people can be. It hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but what an interesting and great journey it has been.
Petra and I have been blessed with 7 children, and each of them have worked at the store at one point or another during their lives. I feel that each of them has learned valuable lessons working at the store that will help them throughout their lives. We have been fortunate to be able to provide 5 college educations thanks to our store. Currently our two youngest children are working with us, which allows Petra and I to travel, and for me to pursue my latest interest… golf! God willing we will be around for another 42 years doing what we love, having a family owned and operated business and continuing the tradition of making people feel at home in beautiful Boulder City.
Stop by and visit us at 415 Nevada Way, or give us a call at (702) 293-4290. We have a wonderful variety of items that we're sure you will enjoy.