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Mi Pueblo Supermarket CEO Dulce Rivera Follows in Her Father’s Footsteps

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Dulce Rivera, CEO of Mi Pueblo Supermarket, oversees what started as a small family business in Pelham in 2005 and is now one of the largest multicultural stores in Alabama with two locations in Homewood and Pelham. (Provded)

By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

Dulce Rivera, CEO of Mi Pueblo Supermarket, has always been one to speak candidly and confidently.

“… I was like 15 or 16 and I was in the store (Mi Pueblo) and the manager at the time was in the produce section and I was just talking to him. We were just making conversation and he asked me what I would like to do when I grow up and I told him ‘I would love to run the business.’ He looked at me and he said, ‘I don’t think this is an industry for women’ and I told him I feel differently. I remember telling my dad and he encouraged me. He said I could be whatever I want. I have the potential to do whatever I can,” said Riveria.

Her dad was right. Rivera now oversees what started as a small family business in Pelham in 2005 and is now one of the largest multicultural stores in Alabama with two locations in Homewood and Pelham.

Not only did her dad provide encouragement but also something else as well. “My father is the one that is very much entrepreneurial. He’s got that nose. He’s got that spirit…,” she said.

And Riveria, 31, always knew she’d be good at the job, recalling every aptitude test she’s ever taken saying, “I would be good at managerial position. I always kind of knew what I wanted to do or hoped to do.”

She remembers how her father, Joel Rivera, a former construction worker, bought his first store. He was making a special meal that required cactus.

“He went to the market to buy it (cactus) and it was outrageously priced. He was livid and believed that quality products like that should still be offered at affordable prices. On his way home, he saw there was a building for rent so he pulled over, went into the parking lot, and got the phone number to call. By the next morning, he had a walkthrough. It took about a year to get it up and running,” said Rivera, who was not surprised her dad made the purchase.

“I’m the kind of person who needs a plan A and then I need a plan B in case plan A fails. My dad is not like that. He just jumps into the abyss,” she said.

“Perfect Transition”

Born in Houston, Texas, Rivera, and her family moved to Alabaster, Alabama when she was five years old. “When I started school at Thompson Elementary, I was the only little Mexican girl in the entire school that did not speak English,” said Rivera.

As she continued her journey through elementary school, Rivera said her English improved more and more each year with help from teachers.

When she reached the third grade, her family moved to Calera, Alabama where she would eventually graduate from Calera High School in 2011.

She thought she wanted to pursue a career in teaching but determined it would be too stressful. “[Teaching] was always in the back of my head,” she said.

Rivera is a first- generation college graduate from Samford University where she studied business and finished in 2017.

College wasn’t easy, Rivera recalled. “The adjustment going from high school to college. I was a part time student for a couple of semesters, so it took me a little longer to do all the credits… The important thing is not to give up.”

While in school Riveria worked part time for her parent’s radio station, La Jefe and La Jefa, in marketing and advertising. The Mexican radio station can be heard on 98.3 FM, 93.1 FM, 1220 AM y 1500 AM.  Her mother, Isabel Rivera, is the owner, and serves as the president.

“I was a sales rep. I wanted to step away from family business and go into a small business or semi-corporate world. My thing was getting some experience first and then come into the family business later but a month before I graduated, a position opened in the bookkeeping department at our grocery store, and my dad was like ‘please come [work with us]. It was the perfect transition.”

“I’m at the store quite a bit. I’m so involved with growing our company. I work a lot with personnel and HR department.”

Becoming one of the Birmingham Business Journal’s 40 under 40 was, “unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it,” said Rivera.

Last year she was the Alabama’s Black Women Roundtable Community Spotlight recipient.

Last October, Rivera was a part of the Alabama Leadership Initiative 2023-2024 class and in 2020 she was named Young Professional of the Year for the Minority Business Awards.

“Very Blessed”

“I’ve been very blessed, and I don’t know why sometimes. I’ll get an award for something, and I just feel so humble.”

As the oldest of three, two brothers and a sister, Rivera says they are “tight knit.”

“We all work together… We’ll have lunch. On Fridays we’ll have dinner. We spend the weekends with our parents, especially during the summer and the holiday times. We travel a lot together. “

When she’s not working, Rivera said she loves to travel, read, go for walks, and watching reality TV shows like The Masked Singer and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

“I’m always looking for a quick trip. I’m almost never in town. I love going to Florida, especially Miami. My favorite place would have to be Mexico, anywhere in Mexico. It’s so diverse in culture and it’s something my mom growing up would always tell us,”Said Rivera.

Locations: 3060 Pelham Pkwy, Pelham, AL 35124 and 216 Green Springs Hwy, Homewood, AL 35209 Contact:(205) 685-1446 or info@mipueblosupermarket.com Hours: Monday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.