La Tienda Garcia and How Computer Classes en Español Helped a Small Business Grow


This is Juan Carlos Garcia. He owns a delightful little bodega just east of Franklin St. and Bruce Randolph called La Tienda Garcia. Walk into his store and the first thing you’ll notice is the divine smell of the fruits and vegetables on display in stacks — fresh plump apricots, bristling pineapples, fragrant melons, sweet yellow mangoes and of course, enough chile peppers, cilantro, tomatoes and onions to make salsa for a small army. Varieties of chips are standing to attention just across the aisle, along with cans of pozole, pickled peppers and nopales, and the iconic glass Coca-Cola bottles chill in a fridge in the corner. Brightly colored piñatas waiting to be filled with candy grace the ceilings of this small tienda, bringing a festive feeling to the shoppers. In his own words, they stock “un poquito de todo,” a little of everything. Juan Carlos and his wife Rocío tend the shop while their children play in the back room, issuing giggles and growls from just out of eyesight, occasionally poking their heads out to view the hustle and bustle of their parents business.

When Juan Carlos first opened this store in 2012, he didn't know anything about how to use a computer. He did ordering and kept inventory by hand, and all the money orders his customers asked him to send to their countries of origin had to be done over the phone, an endless back-and-forth that took a lot of time. So last year he asked his wife to watch the kids and the store one evening a week for eight weeks, so that he could attend free computer classes in Spanish at the Central Library and get the skills he needed to take their business to the next level.

Every Tuesday from 5:30-7 p.m., the Community Technology Center offers free Computer Basics and intermediate level classes in Spanish. In the first class, students learn how to use a mouse; in the second, how to use the Internet. In the third class they create a Gmail account and practice using it, and the fourth class is Staying Safe Online, where newbie Interneters learn to avoid common scams like phishing, pop-ups and viruses. Those are the computer basics, and after that students can learn more advanced tech skills like how to use Facebook, how to save and find files and how to type up a document in Microsoft Word. The series starts again on September 2, and all classes are on the Level Four of the Central Library. (We also offer this series, as well as lots of other classes in English.)

Before Juan Carlos came to the Library, “el no tenía nada,” he didn't have any technology skills to speak of. Now, La Tienda Garcia has its own WiFi connection and Juan Carlos bought a laptop that sits nestled behind the counter. He uses it to make the family business better, more efficient and to offer more services to their customers. He regularly uses the Internet to add credits to the rechargeable cell phones he sells, and he’s able to fill out a form online to send money orders all over the world for his customers. He is a great example of how people can benefit from taking free computer classes at the Library’s Community Technology Center. And Juan Carlos has a message for you:

A mi me gustaría invitar a la gente para que tengan tiempo que asistan alli a las clases. Es para su bien de la gente, pues. Y yo sé que sí sirven porque a mi sí me sirvieron y yo sé que hay mucha gente que ha estado yendo y le han servido de algo.

I would like to invite people to make time to attend the classes. I know the classes help because they helped me and I know that lots of people have been going and it's helped them, too.

Oh and one more thing — he encourages you to Google La Tienda Garcia Denver because he knows it’s on there. No reviews yet, but the address and the phone number will get you to his store. Trust me, it’s well worth the visit.


Viva DPL! Viva!

Excellent story Simone! Keep up the good work guys!

This is a beautiful story. Thank you. :)

Very inspiring story! Thanks for posting and sharing it Simone. Will definitely try to check out the bodega!

I used to work next to a bodega in the Bronx and I'd get a CLT (cheese/lettuce/tomato) sandwich and sunflower seeds for lunch almost every day.

Glad to hear Juan Carlos and his bodega are doing well and that the CTC offers so much!

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