Former Moon Grocery store in West-Central El Paso transformed into Brown Street Market

CW39

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — When Monico and Rebecca Acuna set out to find a place to expand their business three years ago, they never expected to embark on a journey that would lead to building a store that’s quickly becoming a fixture in the community.

The couple started out selling CBD products and tattoo supplies before purchasing a historic building in El Paso’s Franklin Heights neighborhood in West-Central El Paso. Their store, Brown Street Market, has the feel of a bodega or tiendita that you’d find in another city, offering plenty of everyday items as well as locally produced products too.

The Acunas faced a challenge, though, when trying to purchase the building. It is zoned as residential property, so they wouldn’t be able to run a business out of it — unless it continued as a grocery store.

The historic two-story building that stands at 1207 Brown Street was reportedly built between 1912 and 1914 and was first a Chinese grocery store. For more than 50 years, Charlie Mansour owned the building and ran Moon Grocery out of it, selling Middle Eastern food items, spices and kitchen products. Mansour closed the store in August 2020. Monico said the store still carries many of the Middle Eastern products so that they can continue serving Mansour’s customers.

“We became friends and I made a promise to Charlie that we would continue running it as a grocery store,” Monico said. And so, along with CBD products and tattoo supplies, you’ll find Middle Eastern food, daily items, Hispanic food, fresh sandwiches and locally made products.

More than providing the convenience of being able to get many things you need without having to drive to a big box store, Brown Street Market is helping to build community spirit.

“We’ve made a lot of friends and that fills our hearts more than our wallets and that’s what our business is thriving on,” Monico said. “It’s really important for us, that we were raised in this culture, to continue carrying those products and making them readily available.”

To do that, the store stocks up on local products from Licon Dairy, Keepin It Country, Madre Nostre Kombucha, Global Coffee, EP Freeze Dried, Elizabeth’s Nut Butters, Picandies, The Hummus Co., and authentic Hatch chile.

The Acunas make their own tortilla chips that come in cilantro lime and house herb flavors and they have fresh spices too. The store offers national products as well, but their focus is on eventually replacing those with local items.

The store recently started using a deli counter that was left over from Moon Grocery. Monico’s daughter makes the sandwiches for the grocery.

“The deli behind us was here originally, but wasn’t being run,” Monico said. “And several people have come in and said, ‘If you only had sandwiches, if you only had the deli running, that would be fantastic.'”

Though the community was sad to see Moon Grocery close in August 2020, they have been supportive of Brown Street Market.

“The response from the community has been really, really positive,” Rebecca said. “Anytime neighbors come in and they see the changes that are going on here, they’re excited. … We have so much support that we didn’t think we would have and everyone’s excited to see where we’re going to take it.”

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