We sat down with Pablo Ortiz, who owns and operates Aurora Market (500 Irving St NW, just off the main street) along with his wife, Rahel, to talk about their store and their mission to bring healthy, local food and favorites to the neighborhood.
First off, tell us about your business!
Aurora Market is owned and operated by my wife and I. I’m a recent retiree from active duty army after 20 years and my wife has a medical and social worker background. After retirement, we wanted to pursue a career that would allow us to establish roots in the community and to continue our service to the public. As we began our search, we came to the conclusion that a market would achieve our goals. Therefore, we decided to open a market and began our search in various D.C. wards. We were drawn to the Park View sector of Washington, D.C., due to its long history serving veterans, its diverse community, and local appeal as my wife has lived in Park View and graduated from Cardozo High School.
What’s great about our store is that we are dedicated to serving the dietary needs of our diverse community. We encourage our customers to provide product recommendations and then do our best to locate the items or their equivalent. Our top goal is to provide organic, sustainable, and cruelty free food and household products. We are able to shelve a vast assortment of products and tailor our offerings through our strong relationships with local and international vendors. Thereby, providing our community with healthy options that were not readily available without the use of transportation.
Our business is unique as we have the ability to leverage large distributors, that rsupport larger health food companies, and leverage international and national small batch vendors, and local companies. Some of our local companies are Fresh Baguette, located in Rockville, MD. Fresh Baguette provides fresh bread, baguettes, and pastries. All the ingredients are imported from France and baked fresh daily. We source our whole bean and ground coffee from Harrar Coffee and Roastery and Vigilante. Harrar Coffee and Roastery is locally produced in Washington, D.C. and Vigilante is produced in Hyattsville, MD. The companies focus on premium coffee beans sourced from Africa and South America. Another local favorite, by customer request, is Dolcezza. Dolcezza is a Premium Gelato and Coffee company in D.C. We exclusively carry their gelato products and look forward to developing Aurora Market’s coffee line.
What is unique about Aurora Market?
Aurora Market is more than just a place to buy groceries, it’s really mission-based. My wife and I have a lot of similar experiences growing up, in more underserved areas of the places we lived in, and we were able to successfully navigate ourselves out of those environments. Parkview welcomed my wife and her family when they first came here from Ethiopia. However, they experienced challenges as healthy food options were limited without the use of transportation. With this in mind, we felt we could help those in similar circumstances and support those who are committed to reducing their environmental footprint. Aurora Market provides the community with fresh produce and food to make sure there’s a great option for high nutrition foods in a neighborhood that has been historically underserved. We want our market to be as convenient as possible for everyone.
We tailor all of our goods and products to the needs of the community. Our number one priority is to ensure we’re filling the dietary needs of everyone in the community, so we ask our customers for recommendations, do the research, find the vendors, and shelve those products. We focus on sourcing products that are organic, natural, eco-friendly, and human and cruelty-free. For household items we stock fully recycled and biodegradable products.
What are some of your places in Petworth?
We love living here and working here and are active members of the community. We especially enjoy the community garden and are looking to get more involved in composting food waste, supporting clean streets, and district bridges, and volunteering. We love that the neighborhood is residential but that we can walk to lots of great small businesses like coffee shops and restaurants. It really has a small town feel.
Aurora Market is open daily from 9AM-7PM (5PM on Sundays). Follow them on Facebook and on Instagram at @AuroraMarketDC to hear about their latest products!