Mexican store owner brings grit to Federal Way: ‘Even if it’s a small business, it’s yours’

Renato Torres, owner of Tres Del Aguila in Federal Way, grew up learning the business game.

Some people can’t stand working under someone, and Renato Torres is one of those people.

Renato Torres owns Tres Del Aguila at 33606 Pacific Hwy S. in Federal Way, a business that many people say is reminiscent of street corner stores in Mexico City.

Torres opened Tres Del Aguila in 2015, and its primary focus is sending packages and money to Latin America. Torres said his clients send gifts to their relatives, but he also sells various snacks, drinks, tamales, speakers, music and clothes.

Naturally, Torres is a businessman and attributes this to seeing his father be his own boss. Torres is from Tepito, a neighborhood in Mexico City, Mexico. Torres said Tepito is known for having a large volume of crime, but its main pull is one of Mexico City’s largest open-air markets, “Mercado Granaditas,” where vendors sell anything and everything, including shoes. Torres said all his life, his father sold shoes in Tepito at their shoe store named Zapatería Torres.

In 2005, Torres moved to Federal Way because his daughter and her mother lived there. He met his daughter’s mother in Mexico, and from there, they started a relationship, so when she moved to Washington, so did he.

Like his father, Torres had always been his own boss, working in the family business until he moved to Washington. Torres worked in construction and as a club promoter to support himself and his daughter.

But, working under someone never sat well with Torres. Because of his upbringing, Torres said he has a business-oriented mind and prefers working for himself. He said that’s why he started his business when he saw the opportunity.

“I only was in school up until middle school, so when I left school, I started to work with my dad in the family business, and that’s what I learned,” Torres said. “I learned to buy and sell, buy and sell, and so then, that’s what I started to do here.”

Torres said his father always told him and his siblings: “Even if it’s a small business, it’s yours.”

Torres said he likes Federal Way, but he’s seen it change a lot since he first got here in 2005. He said the city is a lot dirtier than it used to be, there’s more crime, and he doesn’t see police patrolling the streets like they used to.

Torres also has first-hand experience with break-ins, citing his business as the victim of multiple burglaries over the past few years. He said the burglaries have been more common and have caused him much economic damage. Torres said break-ins make running his business harder, but he always stays moving forward and making ends meet.

Although he likes living in the U.S., Torres said eventually, his goal is to sell his businesses and move back to Mexico to be with his family, but his economic situation doesn’t allow him.

Torres said he’s frustrated with the economic system because he works so hard, but hardly reaps the benefits. From his experience, Torres said he feels people in Mexico somehow seem more content with fewer resources than people in the U.S.

He said he recognizes there is more opportunity in the U.S., but also disadvantages. Torres said he had pains in his abdomen, but ignored them because of the high cost of medical care without insurance.

“I would like to be stable. Have real stability, but I don’t have it right now. But I think it will come,” Torres said.

Torres said he moved to Washington to be with his daughter, but he and her mother split up many years ago, and about five years ago, they moved to Mexico. Torres said he has no family here, only his girlfriend. Torres said he hasn’t seen his parents for 18 years, and with his parents aging, he wants to return to Mexico sooner than later.

Torres said despite the toughness of running a business, he just wants to see it prosper so he can return to Mexico. He said there are times when he just wants to give up, but he keeps pushing himself.

“It’s all a system, and it’s very ugly. Everything is about money, and there comes a time when all the stress gets to you, and that’s how I feel right now,” Torres said. “I tell people I see it all [running a business] like it’s a game, and you have to play. There are times when earnings are great, but there are times when there are none, and that’s just how it is. Sometimes the duck swims, and sometimes he doesn’t even have any water to drink.”