Soul Warrior's Journey

GariMaya Gift Shop's Owner Marlon Flores

March 07, 2022 Dorman Baltazar
Soul Warrior's Journey
GariMaya Gift Shop's Owner Marlon Flores
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Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast episode, I sat down with the Marlon "Aba" Flores, the owner and operator of GariMaya Gift Shop in Hopkins Village to learn more about his soul warrior's journey. Aba shared how he and his beautiful wife Ema started their beloved gift shop, as well as the inspiration behind it all.




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Speaker 1:

Gotta get it outta head. Gotta get it out.

Speaker 2:

Hello and welcome to another episode of the soul warriors journey. I'm your host dorm and Beltazar, and I am super Excel excited to be able to, to share with you my next guess. Uh, he is a entrepreneur, uh, a visionary and an overall, incredibly, uh, amazing spirit in this world that we live in. Uh, his vision, uh, for me is just mind blowing, how he's able to see so far into the future in terms of what he's creating, what he'd like to create, and it doesn't stop. Uh, he nothing gets in his way. Uh, and as you know, as entrepreneurs, uh, we have to stay, uh, not only two but three, sometimes five steps ahead of the game. Yes. Um, he has one of the most incredible and, um, just really beautiful, uh, stores here in Hopkins village. I mean, it's more than a store. It is a gift shop. I'm talking about none other Marlon Flores of Garra, Maya, uh, gift shops. Marlon, welcome to the show.

Speaker 3:

Yes, man. Welcome my brother. I would love to explain the history and the journey of Gar Maya Garra. Maya started under mcg grandad mango tree 10 years ago. Okay. What happened? Is that me? My wife and my grandmom, because my grandma, she make nice artwork, you know, like when it come to the, to the basket hats, and when it come to the greater and she play drums and she make nice wine and my grand, my grandma, she amazing woman belling, Tina new, you know? Okay. And it was so nice that when me and my wife get together, she's in love with my grandma. So she choose us to move back to Hopkins.

Speaker 2:

So how long have you guys been here in Hopkins?

Speaker 3:

Um, going to 11 years now.

Speaker 2:

11 years? Yeah. Okay. So have you has been in this location?

Speaker 3:

Well, my mom and my grandmother they're originally from Hopkins. Okay. But because then after hurricane had my mom, she moved back to DGA, you know, and that's where we grew up, but my mom, she used to cook at DGA hospital. So we used to spend time going to school in DGA, growing up. But I used to can't wait till school closed so I could be here with my granddad.

Speaker 2:

Oh, right on, right here in Hopkins.

Speaker 3:

In Hopkins.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Now this location, I mean, it is huge man. Like I'm looking around and uh, you got like everything from wine to coffee, to chocolate, to the beautiful, uh, uh, uh, woodwork and, uh, uh, like food bowls. And, uh, you name it from drums to clothing. I mean, where does it stop? I mean, let's not men, let's not forget the Marie Sharp. Like holy

Speaker 3:

Yes. Marie Sharp. We support all local produce. Okay. As well as in our shop, we have over 70 Belizian artwork in our shop. So when never you support government, you support the local economy.

Speaker 2:

Mm. You know? Yeah. Yeah. And that's really important.

Speaker 3:

And whenever friends come, whatever they request and we don't have it in the shop, my wife would write it down so we could get it. So when more friends come, we have it, you know, because being in a gift shop, everyone loves different item. And that's why we have from even a postcard, we got postcard. That is a dollar. And like what? See, when you come to Garma, depends on the energy you bring, we work with you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Because it's just like with the woodwork, you might see a ball that cause 500 believe. Yeah. It's a exotic hardwood of ERCO. But the energy you bring, if you have a budget of four 50, you know, I'll go make sure that I discuss with my wife and then we see how we could work it out for you. Yeah. Because whenever you leave, Gary May happy. We're happy that there's a next happy customer that leave with us mile.

Speaker 2:

So, so it's not even about the money. No, it's all, it's all about leaving. You come in. Happy you leave. Happy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So we always tell them, you come as a guest, you go back as family.

Speaker 2:

Oh man.

Speaker 3:

Cause what make Hopkins special is the people.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Yes. You know,

Speaker 3:

I used to live in key San Pedroia all over and when me and my wife get together, we move back to Hopkins because my wife sees something in me that I never see in myself. She believe in me.

Speaker 2:

Oh. So the saying is true. Uh, next to every good man is an incredible woman. Yes. You know, and I, and I, and I can agree with you on, on the people of Hopkins because they are amazing amazingly resilient people. I mean, the people of Hopkins have gone through a lot and through it all, they still stand up. They're still loving. They're still generous. They're still like, if you, you, if you are new to Hopkins and you get lost guarantee that someone will point you in the right direction.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Because you know, Hopkins is a village that start with like few families and they work together as family. So whenever you hear you become part of the family. Yeah. Yeah. Because if you're my friends, all my family that know your ABA friend, you're a Marlon friend, then they become your friend because you become part of the family.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if you heard that, but you know, here in the village, uh, Marlon is known as ABA UNO, which means

Speaker 3:

One and only one

Speaker 2:

Only. So if you forget his name, just ask, where can I find GU Maya, where can I find Abba, UNO and guaranteed, uh, guaranteed. He will be pointed in the right direction. So now let's, let's come back to the store Marlin, because again, you have, you said over 70 different, um,

Speaker 3:

Believe and artwork

Speaker 2:

In artwork in here. Yeah. And then I see hammocks hanging around and uh, you got all these little trinkets, like

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, like, man, like how do you guys, do you pick all these pieces?

Speaker 3:

Well, when you grow a business, it's like going to school, you learn something new every day. So for the past, um, before I start the business, I used to be someone who would have a backpack with artwork and I would travel Kiko San place to meet tourists and talk to them. Yeah. So again, that experience how to work with the tourists that come to your shop. Like when you visit Gary Maya, if it's a hot sanity, I saw you ride in the bike. I would say welcome to Gary. May would you like a bottle of water? Because we believe that our guests should be comfortable.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. You

Speaker 2:

Know, so you're saying that you just, you have water just ready for your customers or even would be customers and customers. Yes. Anyone who walks through the doors is entitled and I mean entitled to bottle of ice, cold water.

Speaker 3:

No problem.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing. Uh, so now how long have you guys been in this location?

Speaker 3:

Um, going to six years now,

Speaker 2:

Six years. And before this location, we

Speaker 3:

Were right next to the police station. I used to call that road electric avenue because everybody know that's where Gary Mayer really get the great recognition. Oh,

Speaker 2:

Okay. Okay.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it was right there. We won the trip advisory for a five star gift shop in Southern Belize.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's incredible. Yeah. That's incredible. Well, you've gotta be proud of yourself, man. And you know, the work that, you know, you and your wife have put into to make this place, uh, the success that it is. And you know, I see that you're, you're building something next door. Can we talk about that or is that still, uh, a project that is to be, I guess

Speaker 3:

Yeah. We work in, um, what happened is that there is a doctor that wanna do a business next to us, and we're more than willing to work with her because now the world going to what we would say, I would say genocide where with all the coronavirus and this, that, that health is, this is detrimental. Everybody need to make sure that they take precautions and it's good to have access to medical as well as medication.

Speaker 2:

Right. Right. So it's a clinic that's opening next door. Yes. Oh, right on. That's incredible, man. And, and again, you know that you're building a clinic next to the gift shop. I, I feel that that's an incredible, uh, that's, that's an incredible, uh, uh, venture to go into because like you have customers coming from all around the world. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And one of the next thing is that from where I was living on electric avenue, where I have the first car, may my trucks, they always call it poor people, ambulance, because if there's a emergency in the village, I would never reject someone who need the help. I would always make sure that I'm there to help them to reach or hospital if there's an emergency. Because then I believe with the love that the people in the village have for my business and have for my family, I wanna return to cm, love to them. And whenever there's a situation where someone going through sea re tribulation, medical wise, I believe that I should be there to assist them. And now that we go have a doctor and a, and a pharmacy close would be nice because then if they call me, I know it's only be a stone show away.

Speaker 2:

So, uh, Marlon, and let's say, Garma, let's start with Garma is actually a gift shop of the community. Yeah. And Marlon, uh, is pretty much just the manager of that, this community, uh, based business.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Because like what we do in the village, whatever artwork you create in the village, like what I say, tourism, it fracture it pick up and a job, but while it's up, believe in me, we work with everyone, you bring your artwork, we go make sure we work a package deal to put it in the shop because we wanna make sure that when guests come to the shop, they got options.

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, I, I think that, uh, I think for us here, this is, uh, one of those incredible, uh, moments where we get to really share, uh, the beauty of what you've created. So, uh, if you're tuning in here, uh, to our, our live podcast out of Garma, uh, this is, uh, Marlon Flores. And, uh, we're just, uh, talking about Garma. If you haven't heard about, uh, this gift shop, uh, soon you'll be able to order, uh, products from the store that you can, that you can get shipped to you wherever you are in the world, uh, or implementing a really neat system here, uh, uh, to get that done for you. So now Marlon, uh, again, as we look around here and we see all these amazing pieces, let's talk more about how these pieces are selected.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. When it comes to the paint, we have six artists that paint for go may. And the paint different artists depends on the size of the paint. They have a standard price that they put on it.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

But like what I say, when you come to go, may you would like a package deal. You know, if you want a paint and the price is above your budget, we discuss it. My wife, we call the artists that create that artwork. And as soon as he get back in touch with us, then we work it from there. So we wanna make sure, like what I say we love when guests leave Garma with a smile on their face.

Speaker 2:

So now I, I know that upstairs as you also have a, a really awesome open space where you can have a, a 360 view of not only the ocean, but the mountains behind. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

That's a nice place. Um, it's got nice space to do like your, you know, you could do like a me music, culture bar. We got, you know, so it depends on what we go put, but we have something that we working on on it that is coming soon. So folks, when you visit, look out to see that too.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Yes. Now you have a lot of drums here. Like, um, you have all kinds of drum. I see. You have like the, the base drum, what is that base drum called?

Speaker 3:

Segundo

Speaker 2:

Segundo. And then the smaller one is pre pre Rome. And man, you know, I've seen, um, uh, uh, uh, the, the, the drummers, uh, they have like drumming lessons that Fred I tree every Wednesday and Friday. And it is, uh, Dalia. And I, man, I can't, I can't believe, I can't remember the name of the group that performs. Yeah. See, like every Wednesday and Friday, uh, they have a singing lessons and, uh, drumming lessons and they also perform, yeah. Now these drums are incredible. Like the sound that you get out of these things, like, how do you pick these? Do you just know exactly which ones to get?

Speaker 3:

Um, yeah, what happened is that one, it go by the whole who make the drums.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

Because I get drums from everyone that make drums, but ASIN Rodriguez, who is the drum maker, the foundation of drum, his drums, they travel all over the world. Whenever you see gua collective, and those big entity traveling, 90% of the drum that believes band would take out there with them, always make by the Rodriguez family, which is no data. Yo you know, and that's like my grandfather, my, my, my aunt, you know, cuz his son is the one who helped raise me growing up, you know, which is Allen Rodriguez. You know? So the Rodriguez family, they make some of the best jump and here in Hopkins, Baba makes some nice drums too, you know?

Speaker 2:

So like, and, and then, and then the chocolate, how do you, like what made you guys decide to carry chocolate? And like you got the hot sauce, you got some, uh, Bellion, rum, and it's all I need. Uh, uh, I need to say that it's all Bellion products, right? All Bellion products

Speaker 3:

You see, when it comes to chocolate, if my wife see, they bring out a new chocolate, her main thing is where they produce that chocolate. How could we get that chocolate? Cause we wanna put it in G may. Yes. Because then we love when you come and you got options. So we have like right now in the shop, we have like five different bells in chocolate.

Speaker 2:

Wow. And there, you know, I have to say that they're, they're all delicious. Uh, like I remember I came to buy one and I ended up leaving with all five. So now let's, let's talk about the, the coffee. Um, because this has been my favorite coffee since I've been here.

Speaker 3:

It's real good coffee. You know that coffee right there, man from, I have a friend, his mom, uh, he's from Canada too. And his mom took him one pack of coffee.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

And normally every six months she would go to Canada to get medication and other stuff. And she would like, you know, Marlon, I gotta take five pack of coffee. Cause my son who loved coffee, he never know that there was such a nice coffee in Belize.

Speaker 2:

Oh man,

Speaker 3:

That we have here,

Speaker 2:

That it is, it is a nice, uh, uh, bag of coffee. Now let's talk about like, you know, as entrepreneurs, people always see, uh, the business, they see the structure that you've built. They see, you know, everything that they, that you carry and they always, uh, they, don't never, a lot of people don't see the hard work that go goes into running a business of this magnitude. Let's talk about. Um, and you know, I, I, I like to keep it real and not just talk about the good times. Let's talk about some of the challenges that you experience as an entrepreneur, entrepreneur, running a business of this magnitude. And, and guys, as, as you can see, it is pretty large. It is. And this is just a section that we're sitting in. There's still, uh, the part over there that's closed where the, the, the woodwork and the, the, the, the wood spoons and pot spoons and, and the bowls and the cutting boards.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And that room, we got all the exotic hardwood, which we got the ERCO to the Rosewood, the ma Hagan, the seed at the red bull wood, the cabbage bark, the purple heart.

Speaker 2:

My goodness. Like you just rattle those off,

Speaker 3:

You know, like working, working with them every day. You know, you get to identify them real quick, as well as we got some special ball with the underwater, mahogany and Rosewood too.

Speaker 2:

Oh, okay. Okay. Right on. Um, and then you have also, I saw you have some necklaces over there and some, I mean, this is a true gift shop in Hopkins. Yes. And it's, it's one of the biggest, uh, gift shops in the country, if I'm not mistaken.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Um, in Belize they have five gift shop, which is gold standard. Okay. But, and Gary, Maya is one of them. So on trip advisory, uh, you could always look it up. Go may is there.

Speaker 2:

Okay. And that's Gary G a R I

Speaker 3:

M a Y

Speaker 2:

EIAH gift shop. Awesome. Well, you know, Marlon, I just wanna really thank you brother, for taking the time out to sit with me, uh, this evening. I know you've had a long day. Um, and you know, you just keep pushing. Yes. Like, uh, just your, you have such a huge heart and, and I'm grateful to have met you on this portion of my journey. And, uh, thank you for welcoming me into your family and, um, just sharing, uh, all of you, your amazing energy and you know, just this beautiful space that you've created.

Speaker 3:

Yes, sir. Der you more than welcome brother, cuz you know, God may, you know, sometime the sacrifice of like when you have aims goals, you're working on it. Like when it comes to Christmas, when it comes to new years, when it comes to Easter, me and my wife, everyone could be on holiday. We gotta be here working because then at, sometimes I would say, man, I wouldn't even wanna open the shop today. Yeah. Yeah. But I can disappoint the customers because 90% of the tourists go say, man, I'll wait for the last day before I shop. And we never know when is the last day? Right. So for us close, the shop is like, we go closed doors from people that would really wanna support you. And we don't wanna do that. So Gary May opened every day from six, from eight o'clock in the morning, till six in the evening.

Speaker 2:

And I, and I like your, your slogan that you welcome people with. Would you mind sharing that? Uh, with the viewers and the listeners?

Speaker 3:

Oh yes man. I would. I, I always tell guess when they come welcome to go Meyer where it's a hundred percent free for looking from open to clothes, feel free to pick it up, check it out. No problem. One love, one

Speaker 2:

Love right on. And with that we say one love to you and thank you for, uh, tuning in, uh, to the warriors journey live from Hopkins, Belize, um, where I'm now. Uh, yeah, just chilling, living and enjoying the cool ocean breeze until next time. Peace

Speaker 3:

Out. Peace out. One love. Yes. Maximum respect. Maximum respect. Yes sir. Bless Bun.

Speaker 2:

GUI Larry. I'm your host. Doman Beltazar and this is the soul warriors journey.

Speaker 1:

I gotta get out. I.