In the highly-competitive grocery store market, Eli Madrigal continues to prove that fresh food and hard work pays off.
When she was 15-years old, Latina Eli Madrigal emigrated to the US. Her enjoyment of the retail grocery business inspired her to establish her own grocery store chain, Rancho Markets.
Madrigal recently opened her ninth Rancho Market in Clearfield, Utah. Madrigal, an example to the Latino community, went from working at a grocery store to owning nine grocery stores along the Wasatch Front.
The journey to success was always challenging for Madrigal. She worked long hours every day and rarely had free time. As a single mother, providing for her son is what kept her going. She married and divorced at the young age of 23.
Like many single mothers, Madrigal overworked herself to stay afloat. “I made the determination I had to work harder with humility and respect,” she said. Madrigal had no studies or degree, and knew she had a tremendous obligation to put food on the table.
Madrigal, who worked at a grocery store for 11 years in Las Vegas, wanted to be a businesswoman from an early age. She set her mind to it and sought help from her friends, who loaned the money to launch her business.
Despite having lived along the US/Mexican border and in Nevada, she chose Salt Lake City to build her home and establish her business. In 2006, she opened the first Rancho Market. Within a year, she opened the second one. Finally, she started to see the fruits of her labor.
Madrigal states that working in a man’s industry took work. However, she positioned herself in that realm. “I created a name and respect in the industry.” Businessmen respected Madrigal for her dedication, passion, and hard work.
From her teenage years, she knew she had to sacrifice to make things happen, making huge sacrifices whenever she could not pay the mortgage, bills, insurance, and utilities. Those sacrifices came in different shapes and forms. But, mostly, it meant backbreaking work.
Eli Madrigal embodies perseverance, thinking big, responsibility, and patience. She knows firsthand that nothing comes easy and that nothing is handed, above all, to immigrants and single mothers. She is an example for women in general, but especially Latina immigrants.
Madrigal says people only see the tip of the iceberg, which symbolizes success. They do not know what is required to get to that point; risks, failures, struggles, and actions. For example, asking for a loan to establish her company was a high risk. If the business had failed, she would have gone into debt. Her struggles were too many: handling motherhood, family, herself, and keeping a newly established business afloat and profitable. Madrigal had a vision and put it into action. Without action, nothing can be achieved.
Madrigal advises those who want to become businesswomen to “keep learning and do not be afraid.” Sixty percent of her coworkers are women, and 75% are women managers. She empowers them to be successful, learn as she did, and keep doing it.
“When we stop learning, we don’t feel the passion. We lose our purpose,” she said. “Having a business is a lot of responsibility, but if we don’t enjoy it, we can’t be happy.”
“I tell Latinos and Latinas we have to work hard-smart-responsible. But most importantly, with discipline and respect,” she explained.
Madrigal says that working in the grocery industry brings genuine happiness to her.
“I did build Rancho Market to be the main place for everyone who enjoys fresher and quality food for a budget. Like I did being a single, responsible mom,” she explained.
Madrigal understands that fresh food is good for the body but is too pricey in some places. She also knows that single moms have a limited budget. However, they should not sacrifice eating healthy due to a lack of resources.
Madrigal’s story is not a Cinderella tale where a fairy godmother granted her whatever her heart desired. Her story symbolizes the reality of many immigrant women, single mothers, and women without education who had to rely on themselves to make their dreams and wishes come true.