|Dream becomes reality for business owner
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
She might tell the story of when she and her family first moved to the United States from Romania in 1985.
The only thing I knew how to say in English was 'fish,' she said. On the flight over I was asked if I wanted chicken or fish for my meal and I said 'fish' - I don't even like fish.
Yes, Dordea has plenty of stories to tell.
But her own story is that of a fulfilled American dream.
Dordea recently opened her own business, the Gresham Postal Express at 1511 N.E. 181st Ave. on April 24.
The store, which offers a variety of mailing and shipping services, has been a longtime goal for Dordea.
After two years in Southern California, the Dordeas moved to Portland in 1987 and have been here ever since, residing in the Parkrose neigborhood.
I love Oregon, she said. It looks like one of our little towns in the mountains in Romania.
Dordea learned English by helping her three kids with their homework and watching TV. She started working in retail as soon as she was able.
No matter where I worked, co-workers were always nice and helped me with my English, she said.
Dordea said her husband, Stefan, co-owner of the store, has worked for Comcast in Portland for 23 years and loves his job.
She started her career in American retail at Newberry's Lloyd Center location. From there Dordea worked at Target in Northeast Portland, and then spent 10 years as a store supervisor at Goodwill.
I always worked, but in the back of my mind I would think, I have to have my own store, she said. At one point I thought it wasn't going to happen, but then I said to myself, no, I'm going to make it happen.
It took Dordea two years to plan out her business strategy.
First things first, she had to figure out what kind of business to start.
I'd been doing clothes and shoes for forever and I didn't want to go into the food industry - I'm too old for those kind of headaches, she said.
In 2002, she started looking into postal stores like UPS and Postal Annex, but decided against being part of a franchise.
It was only a few years ago that Dordea discovered a company based out of Las Vegas called The Mail Box Stores. According to its Web site, The Mail Box Stores aim to help people start and successfully run their own postal store.
Dordea said she was drawn to the company because it put her in control of the business as the owner. She received training and the company set up the store interior and merchandise, making things simple, Dordea said.
She credits Theresa Whitley, the Mail Box Store franchisee trainer, with teaching her the ins and outs of the business. "I could call Theresa anytime, with any question. Day or night, she is there for me. I can't tell you how reassuring it is to have someone with her knowledge and experience there for you.
Dordea continued, I got a loan, bought the business package and got the lease, she said. I know this store is going to pay back ... I wish with all my heart it's going to do okay.
Kristina Benson has been close with the Dordea family since 1989. Not only is Donna like a second mother to her, the Bensons and the Dordeas are the best of family friends.
Benson said Dordea has always been customer oriented. She remembers Dordea constantly talking about wanting to open a store.
We're all very happy for her, Benson said.
Dordea said all her friends and family are pleased with her new venture.
Everybody is happy because they know how much I wanted this, she said.
Already Dordea said she is seeing positive business results, as many customers have come in to use coupons that were sent in the mail.
This is what makes me happy, she said. When you see that big smile, when another customer leaves the store happy, it makes my day.
Dordea said in the future she may even open another store, but for now she is content in knowing that she fulfilled her dreams.
We had two dreams: to buy a house and to start a business, she said. And the other day I told my husband, 'Honey, we got our dreams.'
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