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I Run a Real Family Business in 2014

Bob Sullivan

America: What’s your money story? Credit.com contributor Bob Sullivan is hitting the road to ask the people he meets across the U.S. that very question. Whether it’s your struggle with student loans, what you did when you lost your job, how you dealt with a house that was underwater or the ingenious way you paid off a major debt – we want to know about it. Everyone’s story is unique, but the concept of money – and the challenges and triumphs that come with it – is universal.

Bob’s travels are taking him through Chicago, Iowa City, Omaha, Denver and then Seattle. If you’re along that route and want to share your money story, you can reach out to him on social media, using the hashtag #AmericanMoneyStories.

MIDDLEFIELD, OHIO — Merela Carrido moved to northwestern Pennsylvania from the Philippines, by way of Australia. At 58, she’s seen a lot of life, and a lot of the world. She’s sure there’s only one way to be confident about the future.

“Be your own boss,” she says. “You’ll work hard, but when you work hard, it’s for you, not for someone else.”

Carrido and her extended family own their own business selling fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets and flea markets all around the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. I met up with her in the heart of Amish country just east of Cleveland in Middlefield, Ohio.

Merela Carrido

When I say family business, I mean family business. Mom works there, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews.  There was about a dozen of the Carrido clan who welcomed me into their corner of the world. Merela is happy with her simple life of hard work. She grew up in the Philippines, and lived in Australia before coming to the U.S. decades ago. Sister Pinky Carrido earned a degree in nursing and occupational therapy, but the farmers’ market offered her a better future.

It’s hard work — there’s plenty of 5 a.m. days. Each day, they must unload and display a tractor-trailer’s worth of produce, and each night, they pack it all up and drive back home. Produce prices can be volatile – witness the great lime shortage of 2014 – which squeeze profits and angers picky customers.

But it always puts “money in my pocket,” Carrido said, even at one $3 quart of blueberries at a time. And it lets her control her own destiny. She wishes more Americans would take the risk of starting a business.

“When you work for someone else, you never quite know what you’re getting for your work,” she said. “We work, but at the end of the day, we know where we stand.”

Want to read more of Bob’s #AmericanMoneyStories? You can follow his road trip on Credit.com.

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