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Altadena Walmart: Betty's Boutique uncertain about competition

Juan Gonzalez at Family Fashion Clothing is concerned about what will happen to his business when a new WalMart moves in nearby.
Wendy Lee/KPCC
Juan Gonzalez at Family Fashion Clothing is concerned about what will happen to his business when a new WalMart moves in nearby.

This story is part of a series on the disruptions to local small businesses expected in the community of Altadena when a new Walmart Neighborhood Market opens next year. To read the rest of the series, check out the links at the end of this story.

Betty’s Boutique came to life based on a mother’s love of selling jewelry.

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Bertha Gonzalez enjoyed selling jewelry to her co-workers while she was a hotel housekeeper. The operation became so popular that she saved up enough money to open her own store on Lincoln Avenue with her husband, Raul and son, Juan.

Now the family is not sure how long they’ll be there, with a new Walmart Neighborhood Market opening down the street.

“We definitely feel like we’re going up against this big corporate monster and we don’t know what’s going to happen exactly,” said Juan Gonzalez.

The business isn’t enough to generate income for the entire family.

Betty has a full-time job as a housekeeper and her husband, Raul, only works the store part-time. Sometimes their son Juan watches over their business.

“It pays the bills,” Raul Gonzalez said. “It keeps us going and little by little, we get more customers.”

He said the store caters to the neighborhood’s needs. Two years ago, a woman walked into the store asking for children’s uniforms. He ordered them and it soon became a frequent item at Betty’s Boutique.

“I don’t really carry nice, expensive dress clothes,” Gonzalez said. “If you look around, it’s working class people.”

The store is quite small, about the size of a garage. It sells socks, jewelry, children’s clothing and adult t-shirts and pants. Most of the shoppers are from the neighborhood. It’s rare to see a customer from outside Altadena.

Gonzalez said he’s on the fence about how he feels about the new Walmart. Maybe it will bring in more customers to his store.

“It’s a hope,” Gonzalez said.

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