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22 People You Should Know/Madison Magazine/November 2004/page 55

West YMCA Member

21.) Maria Garcia

Maria Garcia started building her business 11 years ago by selling her old clothes and furniture at a flea market in a former K-Mart building. "I wanted something better for my kids," she says. "I wanted to buy them a house."

Garcia, who emigrated from Mexico when she was 14 and moved to Madison 29 years ago, learned English in six months at MATC. A single mom, she worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. Cunning and thrifty, she shopped at garage sales and bought three or four copies of the Sunday paper when the coupons were good.

Garcia squirreled away money and when she had enough saved, she decided to invest it in a music store. Three Mercado Marimar supermarkets, two restaurants and two houses followed. She is still very hands-on, not above ringing the cash register, peeling a cactus or pushing a broom. "I think I'm a good boss," she says. "I'm very compassionate, especially with the single mothers, because I've been there myself."

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