Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced welcomes new Smart Depot store


Smart Depot Supply, the newest supply store in Merced, celebrated its official grand opening last Wednesday, Feb. 9, at its location, 863 W. 15th St. in Merced.

The grand opening was open to the public and celebrated with free Mexican cuisine treats such as aguas frescas and elotes. There were also raffles, specially priced items, and a DJ playing lively tunes for guests.

The supply store focuses on products and brands that are popular with this region’s massive Hispanic community, including candy, drinks, cookware, plates, cups, dried chiles, piñatas, flowers, toys, and wholesale restaurant products.

The owners, Marisela and Matias Calderon, are also the entrepreneurs behind Fruta Loca — a Mexican juice, dessert, and snack shop in north Merced. The couple discovered the need for a supply store as they often experienced difficulty getting products for their food and beverage business.

“First of all I would like to thank everyone for being here,” Marisela welcomed attendees in Spanish. “We are trying to support the city of Merced here. We had so many problems trying to get supplies that we finally thought, ‘Why don’t we supply? Why don’t we try helping others here in the city and make it easier for everyone?’ … Please let us know if you need anything. We are here to help.”

Residents enjoyed a sunny afternoon sipping on Fruita Loca’s popular aguas frescas and munching on roasted corn. Katlynn Berber, part owner of the family business, walked around handing raffle tickets to the crowd. The winner would take home a party piñata pack.

“Our story began 35 years ago,” Mathew said. “At first it was just a project, and then 18 years passed with a fixed mindset in trying to do it, and then Marisela was intrigued with the idea, as well as my children. We started to roll out the idea and created the business, which is now Fruta Loca. From there came the need for supplies and the idea to begin this second business. This is a family business that comes with a lot of sacrifices but here we are trying to reach our goals. We hope our store leaves an impact on not only Merced, but also on the whole county and to regions further than that. Finally, I thank you all for being here and welcome, this is your afternoon. Please enjoy.”

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was also there to honor the opening with an official ribbon cutting. The Berber family stood behind the red ribbon as the cutting began; Maricela, Mathew, their son, Hector Berber, his wife, Katlynn Berber, the Calderons daughters, Chelsea Calderon and Evelyn Berber, and her son they playfully call “frijolito.”

The family cheered as the ribbon was finally cut.

“The true heroes in all of our stores are my parents,” Hector Berber explained. “We have nothing without them. They taught us how to work, they taught us what we need to be successful and we would not be here without them. I’m nothing without them and I do everything for them.”

“Then there are the little heroes in the background,” he continued. “My wife Katlynn, and my two sisters, Evelynn, and Camila, they are the little heroes. They are in the background, pushing and helping. My parents and I cannot do this without them.”

“We are a legit family-owned local business, this is the team!” He gestured to his family members beside him.

Smart Depot Supply is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. You can find them at 863 W. 15 Street or reach them at (209) 349-800.

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