East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Profile: Jesus “Chuy” Arcio Lopez, owner of Maria’s Market

Jesus “Chuy” Arcio Lopez is a simple man. He has lived in East L.A. for the past 30 years of his life, and in that time, he has befriended many people who regard him as a nice person. Before coming here, he lived in Lincoln heights, West L.A., Downtown L.A., and Jalisco, Mexico. He has seen the East L.A. community change from what it used to be, where dead bodies might be found on a weekly basis in the park just across the street from his business. That never demoralized him though, and he always kept a friendly and upbeat attitude towards life. His customers could sense that, and in turn, they carry the same attitude. He told us  to always carry a positive vibe, so others are bound to feel the same way so that they will spread goodness with whoever they meet. Chuy likes the freeways in East L.A. He loves the fact that you can hop on one freeway, and eventually land in Florida, or in some other part of the United States, or even Mexico or Canada.

Another thing we asked Chuy was where he came from, but also what it was that made him want to leave those places and come live here. He explained that there is actually opportunity here, and it is way less dangerous. So to him, it was a no brainer. Though he came here back in 1978 as a kid, he only attended the sixth grade, then dropped out of school to work for his family. He never continued his education, but is now the owner of the business Maria’s Market, where he serves the people of East L.A. Even when the economy was bad, he kept his positive outlook the whole time. He persevered through those hard times, and was still standing, his positivity intact and undamaged.

He enjoys working at the market because he gets to talk and see people all day. He noticed that his customers like him and have even told him that he is a good man. He deals with many different people. Since there is a school and park in the area, many kids go to buy a drink to quench their thirst. The men who play handball at Obregon Park go and get snacks and drinks there, or just want a chance to talk with Chuy. Chuy knows many of his customers who come into the store. He even notices the people who only go to his store to buy water from the outside dispensing machine. He told us that they aren’t usually from East L.A., but they only come to buy water from him. They pay and leave.

Chuy is proud to live in East L.A. because he feels comfortable here. He has made most of his life here and likes it, through the ups and downs. His first home, however, is very different from his current one. In Jalisco, Mexico the towns are small so most people know each other. “It is very diverse here,” he says, “you never know who will walk into the store.”