Tag Archives: employment in Mexico

Failing at your own business–juice and menudo


I was finding living without electricity very difficult, so I rented a small ‘local’ (it’s like a garage with a bathroom) in town to use for my computer. I didn’t have any commercial use in mind, didn’t even bother to open the ‘cortina’ (garage door). I just did my planning for school and made up the exams. I was there maybe 3 hours a week.

That seemed wasteful to my husband. He thought I should do something to at least make enough money to pay the rent. Ok, like what? Well, we could sell juice. All right. We had an electric juicer and his mother loaned us an orange juicer. We started with carrot and orange juice. Freshly made juice is sold in little bags with a straw in it, closed with a rubber band.

So we sold juices from 8 am to 11 am every day. We did ok, but I had rented the ‘local’ on the basis of proximity to La Yacata, not its commercial viability. It wasn’t a heavily trafficked area. The neighborhood residents were not well-to-do and less apt to buy something they could make in their own kitchen.


So the juices phased out, to be replaced by menudo (a traditional Mexican soup made with cow stomach) on the weekends. My husband was an excellent cook and his menudo with an occasional pozole (soup made with corn and pig feet) were delicious. Unfortunately, as these were early morning soups with the reputation of being cures for hangovers, and take hours to prepare, we had to start the evening before and cook all night.

As with the juices, we sold what we made, but didn’t see much profit. So we closed again.




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Failing at your own business-Produce Truck

fruit truck

Produce trucks provide fresh fruit and vegetables to outlying areas.

The next harebrained scheme for making money was a produce truck. My husband bought a 1985 clunker pickup truck. He removed the bed and refitted it with metal bars to hold the crates of fruit and vegetables. We made another trip to Morelia and stocked up on fruits and vegetables. We had carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillas, onions, garlic, oranges, pears and melons. We had a scale that I had used in the U.S. to weigh things to send through the mail. Ok, so it wasn’t in kilos, but we could approximate right? And some plastic bags.

We started on a Saturday, being payday, and drove through town. We started noticing that most other produce trucks had a sound system announcing their wares. We put that on the ‘to get’ list.

Well, we didn’t do too badly that day, sold some things. We probably acted a bit too grateful and surprised to pass as seasoned sellers, but hey, it was fun and we got to see some places we hadn’t visited before.

Day two, started out well. Then we ran into the ‘federales’ the state police. They wanted their ‘mordida’ or cut of the take. My husband pointed out that we had just started that day and we hadn’t made any money yet, so they accepted 2 bags of tomatoes as payment.

Then day 3 came and the truck broke down. I told you it was a clunker didn’t I? My husband went hitchhiking back to the nearest town to see if he could get a piece for the gas tank or something and left my son and I in the truck, guarding the wares. And would you believe, the ‘federales’ stopped, not to see if we needed assistance, but to see what they could take. I didn’t have any cash and I didn’t feel comfortable enough to even roll down the window to talk to them, so eventually they went away. They must not have gone too far, because when my husband came back, so did they, and picked up a few kilos of fruit for the Mrs. at our expense.

We persevered until the fruit we had bought was either sold or on the point of going bad. We didn’t lose money, but we didn’t make any either. My husband sold the truck.




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Failing at your own business–Vulcanizadora


The most common form of advertising for a tire patching place.

Minimum wage? HA! Decent pay? HA! Benefits? HA! Insurance? HA! Vacation? HA!

Ok, so we weren’t in the States anymore. Finding employment was a challenge for my husband. Keeping it was a challenge for me. So we had the novel of idea of working for ourselves. We failed at EVERY endeavor.

First, my husband opened a vulcanizadora (a repair shop for tires, bike and tricycle tires, moto tires, car and truck tires, wheelbarrow tires, etc.) He had an air compressor, pump, and the basic tools he would need. We went to Morelia and bought a bulk supply of patches and glue. We rented a place and opened.

Business trickled in. By trickled, I mean by droplets. Maybe one client a day, maybe not. Let me tell you a little secret about my husband, he is not very patient. My son and I would arrive with his lunch and his comment was ‘ahorita vengo’ meaning I’ll be right back’ and he’d be off. Well, I brought my sewing machine over and busied myself with making stuff while William played contentedly nearby. Then he’d be back and decide that it was time to close, so we would.

open sign

Work Hours: We open when we arrive. We close when we go. If you come when we aren’t here, it’s because we didn’t meet.

This type of behavior isn’t confined to my husband. It seems to be the hallmark of little businesses here. The owner opens around 10 am, maybe 11 am. He or she is there maybe an hour or two. Then leaves to take care of something or other, leaving behind an employee or the kid. Of course, should anyone happen to stop by and want to make a deal, the employee/kid usually doesn’t have the authority to do so and will tell you the owner will be back at x hour. If you are determined, you may come back at x hour only to find that the place has been closed for lunch, which here is from about 1:30 to 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Then the place may open again around 4 or 5 and stay open until 6, but then again maybe not. So how does anyone sell enough even to pay the rent?

Anyway, we weren’t making any money with the tire patching business. So since I had been making things with the sewing machine during those long, hot afternoons, I had enough to open a ‘bazaar’ in the adjoining alcove. I had stuff, nothing very interesting, but things we had brought that we didn’t really need and the stuff I had made while I waited to return from wherever he had gone like ponchos, little girls’ dresses, some cloth baby toys. And I was more patient than my husband. I stayed open from 10 am to 2 pm, and sold nothing.

That little venture lasted about 2 months, then we closed down and renewed our employment search.



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