Since taking over Los Primos 13 years ago, owner Miguel Collado has battled through adverse conditions and managed to maintain one of the only supermarkets in Northeast Central Durham.
“When we first came here, this was a very downgraded store with very little services to people,” Collado said. “When we took the store, the store should’ve been closed prior to us taking it over because of the sanitary situation that was here and the way that they ran it. I say it was a curse to the community to have to go to the meat department and buy meat and there were rats back there.”
The store, under Collado, has done much better business. He said it’s done 10 times the volume it used to do, but it’s doing eight times the volume because of all the competition.
“You have Save-A-Lot down the block, you have new stores that open up, but not in the immediate vicinity. We offer a lot of services to the people in the community because this is a walking store. We don’t depend much on people driving in their cars.”
“We have low income houses here, so we have people walking here, we’ll drive them home,” Collado said. “We give them a free soda every time they shop here. We’ve been doing a Christmas gift every year for the past three years. People are already asking me when it’s gonna be done.”
A local resident, Sheneka Cooper, said that having this supermarket open for so long has been very helpful in the community.
“I’ve been here since 2004, and I’ve seen that people depend on this store being open,” Cooper said. “They can’t go nowhere else.”
Collado said he has no plans of slowing down.
“I love the people here. You know for every bad one, there’s 100 good ones,” Collado said. “We will survive the Alston Ave. project because people like to shop here. They’re gonna start in January 2016, and we’re gonna remain here. As a matter of fact, we’re gonna start doing some changes around here, start changing the front view of the store.”
Collado encourages people that don’t live in Northeast Central Durham to come walk around the neighborhoods and “see people who don’t have a key in their door.”
“They should come around here and see because there’s a lot of poverty around here. There’s also need for the government to help some of these people get jobs. I cannot put any more employees here because this is a small store, I have 14 employees, and I cannot afford to have anybody else.”
Collado feels the need to display humility when dealing with all of his customers, no matter how much money they have.
“I have to be really thankful to that person who comes in,” Collado said. “It doesn’t matter who they are, how much money they have, how much they have on the food stamp, it doesn’t matter. That’s still a human being that you have to treat with respect and honor.”
Even though he would like more people to come to around the community, Collado said he is blessed and appreciative of having the store.
“The people that live over there, that work in government buildings over there that are making the money, they don’t come to spend their money in my store,” Collado said. “I don’t need their money, but they should come around here and see how some people are living.”
“I’m getting by, thank God. I’m paying my bills. I’m not gonna be a millionaire, I don’t need to. I’m satisfied with what I’m doing, with what God is giving me. He’s given me this store and all the wonderful people that support it.”