Our Community - The Nuñez Brothers - "Brothers' bond benefits business"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 48            December 6, 2001

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Genaro, Tach, J and Smiley

A family can be measured by their devotion to each other and the strengths and beliefs of each member. All these qualities combine to form a lasting unity. This week "Our Community" takes a different approach to its column by featuring a family of brothers who, working together, have managed to keep their family strong and their business alive - The Sea Turtle Boys.

    Approximately twenty-five years ago, the boys' father Genaro "Crusher" Nuñez (deceased) and his wife Concha opened the first gift shop on the island on the bottom floor of their house. Genaro, a lover of sea turtles, named his establishment Sea Turtle Gift Shop. This small souvenir store offered custom-made Black Coral jewelry, antique bottles, shells and preserved marine creatures to the tourists. In addition, Mr. Nuñez offered his service as a skilled tattoo artist for interested patrons. Concha was well-known for her cooking skills and made the Barrier Reef Restaurant popular with her excellent Belizean rice and beans. The Nuñez's had four children; Genaro Jr. "Genzo," Ismael "Smiley," Jason "J" and Julius "Tach". From the time they were small children, the four brothers were involved with the shop and naturally learned their parents' skills. As San Pedro began to develop, Sea Turtle Gift Shop relocated to front street (now Barrier Reef Drive) inside the Barrier Reef Hotel. Seven years ago the shop moved to its present location on Pescador Drive. "Sea Turtle" was the pride and joy of the Nuñez's and after the passing of Genaro Nuñez in 1998, his four sons pledged to continue his legacy by operating the business themselves.

    In order to keep the family enterprise alive, Genzo, Smiley, J and Tach each agreed to carry out certain duties. Three years later, Sea Turtle Gift Shop remains one of the most thriving businesses on the island, offering souvenirs, stationery, jewelry, electronic appliances and by operating as a pawn shop.

    Genzo, the oldest of the four brothers, manages the store. A 1988 graduate of San Pedro High School he first went to work as a bartender and chef for seven years at the Barrier Reef Hotel. When Sea Turtle Gift Shop moved to its present location, Genzo joined his parents full-time in their business. Today, apart from the overall administration of the business, Genzo is also responsible for the financial management of the store. On March 13, 1993 Genzo married Rosa Graniel and together have two lovely children: Genzito (8) and Aylin (3). Although Genzo carries most of the business' weight on his shoulders, he says he always makes time for his family. Sunday picnics are almost guaranteed. He also enjoys fishing expeditions with his brothers, when they forget about business and just have a good time. Genzo informed the San Pedro Sun that next year they will expand the shop to include a larger selection of stationery and souvenirs. 

    Twenty-nine year-old Smiley graduated from San Pedro High School as an academic student in 1990. Like Genzo, he too worked as a bartender and chef at Barrier Reef Hotel. Then, in 1992, he accepted a job as a ticket agent/dispatcher at Island Air (now Maya Island Air). Three years after joining the airline's staff, Smiley was promoted to supervisor and two years later to Station Manager. Even so, Smiley still assists with the bookkeeping at Sea Turtle Gift Shop and aids Genzo with the administration. Although he is a very active person, Smiley says he makes periodic checks on the shop to ensure that the business is running smoothly. Speaking of his working relationship with the others Smiley remarked, "We all cooperate and have a good working relationship. Today, there is a lot of competition so we must ensure that our business is original. We do this by offering merchandise that is attractive to our customers." Smiley is married to Clarissa Graniel and together they have two beautiful baby girls; Marielie (3) and Ismaelie (5 months). During his free time, Smiley enjoys leisurely rides with his family and going to the beach to enjoy a cool drink.

    J is the third member of the Sea Turtle Boys. He is twenty-eight years old and also a graduate of San Pedro High School. J fondly remembers making Black Coral jewelry with his father and helping around the shop. J plays an integral role in the business as the telephone and watch repair technician, as well as being a sales clerk. This self-taught technician adds the maintenance and repair services that Sea Turtle Gift Shop is well known for. J is also known for his athletic abilities, having won several basketball and volleyball medals and trophies. "I do my best to Žbig up' the business since this was my father's dream and I certainly will not let him down," commented J.

    The youngest of the crew is twenty-four year-old Tach. Considered the "Jack-of-all-trades" of the business, Tach compliments the efforts of his brothers. After graduating from San Pedro High School in 1994, Tach enrolled in a veterinary course but was unable to complete this endeavor. A music lover, he used this passion to enhance the growth of the family business by managing the music and entertainment section of the shop. He is also instrumental in purchasing merchandise. Tach is the father of Julizza (4) and Juliuoz  (2), and uses his spare time fishing and mixing music.

    Together, these four young men make up the core of Sea Turtle Gift Shop. Through their dedication and individual skills, they have managed to keep their father's dreams alive and are considered the "Fantastic Four" of "Our Community."

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