Carlos Castro says, “If you are going to make it, the United States is where you can make it.”
He worked hard to get here. Castro’s first attempt to sneak into the United States in 1979 failed. He was caught, spent time in jail and was sent home. Jail gave Castro time to think about the future. The second time, he made it across the border.
Castro opened his first Todos Supermarket in 1990 in Marumsco Plaza and later opened a second store in Dumfries. When I heard he was moving his Dumfries store to a new location in Woodbridge, I thought it was time to catch up. When I walked into his new store, I found Castro working out some of the many moving parts of his state-of-the-art 65,000-square-foot project.
With Castro, what you see is what you get. His modesty, humility and willingness to share intimate details of his rise in the business world are lessons for all of us. Rising from a job cleaning bathrooms at a restaurant in Adams Morgan to being recognized as one of five self-made Hispanic immigrant millionaires by CNBC wasn’t magic. He worked hard for it.
Castro’s vision is to create supermarkets that reflect Prince William’s diverse community. Todos is Spanish for “everybody.” While our large Hispanic population will feel quite at home in a Todos Supermarket, it has something for everyone. I particularly enjoy the deli and cafeteria in the current Woodbridge Todos and look forward to a “road trip” to try out his new supermarket’s menu.
Castro’s efforts benefit us all economically. He estimated his current operations have an annual gross revenue of around $24 million, and he hopes to at least double that number when his new supermarket opens. Add that to the millions of dollars in payroll for the many vendors, subcontractors and services companies that support Todos, the jobs he created at Todos and those who support it and the taxes generated for Prince William, and you get a feel for the outsized impact this once undocumented immigrant, now a proud U.S. citizen, has on our community.
Castro’s contributions go beyond financial. He has contributed his time, money and energy to many challenges facing Prince William. He has received too many awards and recognitions to even begin to list.
Castro wrote a book about his experience, “Mi Camino al Éxito” (“My Journey to Success”). If you are lucky enough to speak Spanish, it’s available now, and it’s being translated into English. I am sure his children are reading that book. Castro is teaching all of them the business.
I had the pleasure of attending Leadership Prince William with Castro’s daughter, Gina. She is being groomed to take over as CEO eventually. Castro looks forward to traveling more after Gina takes over; however, he will never be far from the business he created and loves.
Carlos Castro “made it” in America. I asked him if he had any advice for budding entrepreneurs wishing to follow in his footsteps: “Don’t follow the money. Follow the mission. The money will follow.” You might want to write that down. Buying his book might not be a bad idea.
Castro’s new Todos Supermarket is scheduled to open in the next few weeks. You’ll find it at 16593 River Ridge Blvd. in the River Oaks Shopping Center on U.S. 1. By the way, Todos is hiring.