Today we’d like to introduce you to Royer Perez.
Hi Royer, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
After a drive home from a family member’s house, Kyla found a retail space for rent in Echo Park and asked if we should open up a thrift store. The space was listed at $3,000 a month and at that time, we have been saving money to get married in February. We thought, “what’s the worse that can happen?” so the very next day I took care of all the legal work and started to work towards obtaining the place. Within a week, we were a registered business and had signed the lease. After three weeks, long days and short nights, much stress and work, the doors to The Salem House Thrift were opened. Business was very slow at first but we did everything we could to promote it. Kyla posted a tweet about our story up until that point and it gained a lot of traction. We went from 30 followers to 1,000 overnight. We had people come in everyday, we almost didn’t have enough clothes for people. It was a blessing but we definitely were not prepared for that. We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to help the community so we decided to open up the store to local artists and began to house their work. To help them out, we allowed them to tell us how much commission to take and we used any tips we received to buy supplies for the homeless down the street.
After a month or so of opening, we drove down Alvarado St. and saw a “For Lease” sign at a location that caught our eye. We called them very next day and they had a tour scheduled the following morning. We instantly fell in love with the underground theatre. It was everything we wanted. Our minds were filled with ideas about all the events we could do and how we can allow the community to use this location for their art. We knew we had to do everything we could to get it and so we did. We toured the place on a Monday and by that Friday, we put down half of the downpayment and signed the lease on November 6th, our one year anniversary of our relationship. We continued to work hard, door dashed and prayed and within two weeks, we had put down all the money for the place and received the keys for it. Upon walking in for the first time reality hit. We signed a contract, used all our money, and now we were left with a place that needed work and inventory but we had no money. Our Opening date was set to December 12th so we needed to act fast. We saved our Unemployment money, Kyla got a job, and I continued to door dash. How were we going to come up with a few thousand dollars in weeks? Didn’t know. How did we come up with $7,500 in a few weeks? No idea. It was all God. In the middle of it, all life through a curveball and someone hit my car, our only source of income. I instantly broke down and cried. Kyla comforted me and I felt at peace that everything was going to be okay.
Somehow, everything was because the guy who hit my car really didn’t want to go through the insurance so we offered me $10,000 cash to settle the accident. Crazy right? Still laugh about it to this day. We used the money to get us out of the debt we were in, elope, get an apartment, renovate the store, and buy a lot of inventory. December 12th came and we were open for business. Many nights of work followed many days of worry and anxiety while also being at peace that everything was going to be okay. We do not come from money or wealth. Both of our parents are single parents. My mother had me at 15, immigrated from Mexico, and I wasn’t legal till I was 16. Kyla spent most of her life in Africa and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12. Our motivation isn’t money. We don’t work for money. Our motivation is people. We want to help people and give back to them because so much has been given to us.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Not at all. From the very begging, we have had to figure everything out on our own. We both dropped out of college because we wanted to be musicians, not business owners. Now we love it! The store feels like an art project. Money has been the biggest struggle but we are slowly learning to not be afraid of it. The struggle to get the full support of my family was hard in the beginning. They wanted me to have a regular job and go to school. I dropped out and opened a business in the middle of a pandemic with no experience. I understand their concern and I don’t blame them, but when all I needed was some support and reassurance that everything was going to be okay, I was getting the complete opposite. Kyla’s family and God were definitely our resting place. When we needed money, no bank would give us a loan so we had to work for everything. My credit was ruined and it still is but somehow, we’ve pulled through.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We both met through our love of music and God. We initially wanted to pursue a music career and would write songs after we got off work. However, That dream is still in the works but we are approaching it differently. Kyla wants to have a business to keep us financially secure so that our music will just be made for the love of it and not so we can eat. The store feels like an art project and we treated as such. It has been remodeled around three times now and it will probably continue to be as our taste grows.
How do you think about luck?
Kyla’s family tells me that whatever she wants, she somehow gets. She wanted the store and she got it. She wanted to live in a two-bedroom apartment in Hollywood and she got it. Somehow everything works out for the two of us. Not that we don’t have to work for it or we just sit there and do nothing, but we both know that God has our back and He is working everything for our good. Time and time again when it feels like there is no way out, a door opens. This extends from simple things like we are running out of toiletries and have no money for it then the next day a bag of everything we are missing shows up at our front door to us needing $10,000 and someone random gives it to us cash. Whenever bad luck shows up, it is immediately made better. It really is all God. Everything we have should be impossible for us to get and somehow, we have it.
- We don’t want to gentrify Echo Park anymore than it already is, so we try our best to keep our prices affordable. 90% of our inventory is between $14-$19
- Email: TheSalemHouseThrift@gmail.com
- Website: www.TheSalemHouseThrift.com
- Instagram: TheSalemHouseThrift