Even at the darkest hour, Cisneros never gave up hope. “You don’t lose until you give up,” he said. “You can hit rough patches. You can face adversity, but the moment you quit is when you officially lose.”
Cisneros says that for many families, it does not take much to slip into homelessness. In his case, he and his wife both lost their jobs. They fell behind on rent and were evicted with their five children. Despite working as many as three jobs at a time, the eviction on his record made it impossible to find a landlord who would rent to them. At rock bottom in 2019, his wife and children lived in shelters while Cisneros slept in his car.
His business is turning a profit and his family now has a stable place to live. Cisneros is now using his success to help others. 101 Marketplace has hired additional staff who have also been homeless. In addition, he sometimes helps local creators who have fallen on hard times by offering shelf space to sell their products without charging a commission. “It’s nice to be able to help them because when I was homeless, it was tough because I was working three jobs and any extra income would have been great.”
The family eventually saved enough money to buy a small trailer in which to live. In the fall of 2020, in the midst of the third surge of the pandemic, Cisneros noticed that commercial rent prices were dropping as landlords looked to fill vacancies. He decided to take a risk and use the rest of his savings to follow a lifelong dream and open a store. One year in, Cisneros is thriving. “It’s a lot of work. Business has been great. We’ve met a lot of great people. I feel like we get people in here all the time that fall in love with our store.”
Cisneros is also partnering to raise money for Friends of Oceanside Library. He says the library’s children’s programs were a critical haven for his kids when they were homeless.