The Chaco Trade Center is a small convenience store that has provided some necessities for the Navajo people living in the Pueblo Pintado community.
The store has a coin-operated laundromat, mailboxes, propane sales, and a gas station. It is the only commerce that provides gas and propane in about a 70-plus-mile radius for the more than 300-member community.
The store is rebuilding its SNAP EBT sales after the U.S. Department of Agriculture informed the store owners that they were suspended from processing food stamps or cards from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) after a misunderstanding. A majority of residents in this small remote area who purchase groceries here use food stamps, and the SNAP sales make up a large part of the store’s income.
“We have people who never leave this community and do their shopping here,” said Dennis Buckman, who added that though there is a small convenience store in the Torreon community about 30 miles away, it does not carry fresh vegetables, meats, or have laundry facilities.
Chaco Trade Center is the only convenience store with gas, propane, laundry, mailboxes and fresh good between Crownpoint and Cuba serving Pueblo Pintado residents.
After a lot of meetings, attorneys fees, petitions and prayer, the Buckmans finally received reinstatement from the USDA to handle SNAP EBT transactions earlier last year.
When they discovered The Loan Fund, they applied for a loan and a line of credit to help get caught up with vendor bills. While they’re still in debt, they are consistently seeing higher sales and wider gross profits.
“It took The Loan Fund thinking outside the box, the history of the store, and the overturned decision to decide to support us. It was that motivation we needed, someone saying that they believed us,” Dennis Buckman said. “We knew it could only go up from there.”