October 25, 2022 By Suzanne Robertson

Laredo, Texas sits directly on the U.S.-Mexico border. With a booming economy, the southwest city has been touted as an ideal region to operate a small business. The SmartBiz® team was fortunate to work with two successful Laredo entrepreneurs ready to expand their business.

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Vargas Imports Bikes, was founded over 12 years ago and operates both online and from a brick and mortar location.

The family business is owned by Maria and Victor Vargas and specializes in bicycles for all ages, selling both on the wholesale and retail market in the United States and in Mexico. We spoke with Maria to learn more about her experience and plans for the future.

Maria’s business background has always involved family.

She says, “My first business was started with my mom and dad. We imported pottery from Guadalajara to sell in the U.S." The business was successful for several years, but then the value of the goods decreased. Maria wanted to continue working for herself so she earned her bachelor’s degree in business and sought out another venture.

She soon found a way to continue working independently and earn a living with her husband of 30 years. “I met a man who introduced me to the bicycle business. He was transporting bikes across the U.S.-Mexico border, and my husband Victor and I decided to give it a try. Victor is a semi-truck driver and handles the transportation and hauling. I take care of the bicycle business at the store and online, as well as the business administration.” About working with her husband she says, “If you both are going in the same direction with the same ideas and want the same things, it works well.”

Maria puts in long hours generally working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. “My husband and I are hard-working people. I’m tired when I get home, but I love the business.” Maria reports that most of the population of Laredo is Hispanic and it works well for their cross-border business. She says, “No matter what, we try to give the best service and products to our customers as possible.”

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For Vargas Import Bikes, business is booming! They saw revenue increase by 29.7% between 2019 and 2020, along with 100% positive feedback on eBay® and a 5-star rating on Google® Reviews.

While they are profitable and successful, Maria felt additional funds would be needed as the 2022 holiday season approaches. She says, “I called my bank before getting this most recent loan and they asked for too much documentation. I returned to SmartBiz and they helped me a lot.”

Vargas Imports Bikes is a repeat customer. The couple first came to SmartBiz in 2020 and received two SBA loans. This time, they are using the funds from an $88,000 SBA loan to bolster inventory for the holiday season, hire an employee, and for working capital.

SmartBiz Senior Relationship Manager Charmaine Steele worked closely with Maria during the SBA loan application process. She says, “Maria Vargas was a joy to work with. From the beginning, Maria was very patient and kind throughout the application process. I’m elated that SmartBiz was able to provide affordable capital the business needed to continue to make a difference.”

Maria and Victor are set up for success in a growing industry. In fact, with over 17 million bikes sold in 2021, revenue in the bicycle industry is estimated to be around $6.9 billion. The SmartBiz team wishes Vargas Imports Bikes the best.

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