Oh, Del Paso, with your image that fluctuates from hip art scene to homeless drunk tank with the setting of the sun, when are you going to blossom? Well, if you ask Jay Roth (pictured) and Lisa Roth-Chavez, who own Box Brothers (2213 Del Paso Boulevard), the answer is “very soon.” The young couple—who have made a business of shipping everything from letters across the city to Skinner’s artwork to galleries around the world—picked the Del Paso neighborhood for their store because they see beyond a past of poverty and urban blight into a future boulevard of unlimited potential.
How long have you guys been here?
Roth: Since July of 2009.
Roth-Chavez: Right after this building was built. Have you seen what it was before?
Roth-Chavez: It was a tweaker’s joint.
Roth: Yeah, it was pretty bad. They completely gutted it and made it what it is now, with all the nice fixtures and everything. It was kind of a run-down building.
Who got the idea to open a Box Brothers?
Roth: I moved to Los Angeles. I was doing music there for the last 10 years. I was in a couple different bands. While I was there, I met [Lisa]. Since I was doing music, I needed a day job, so I got with this company Box Brothers. And when it came time to move back to Sacramento to start a family, I approached my superiors and asked if I could open one up in Sacramento, and they gave me the green light.
Roth-Chavez: You see Korean people working with their whole family in the spot, so it’s like, “We can do that.” I don’t want a baby sitter.
How is it owning a business in a low-income neighborhood like this?
Roth: We made a conscious decision to be in this location. We could have chosen Midtown or something, but we saw the potential on the boulevard, and we thought that it would be a good way for us to give back to a lower-income part of Sacramento by putting our business here and hoping to grow with it. And so far, so good. The News & Review moved in a few months after we did. Enotria [Restaurant & Wine Bar]’s got that big project going. Even though we’re not making a lot of money, the freedom is worth more than that.
Would you encourage other young people to start a business?
Roth: Definitely. I’d say now is the time, too. We wouldn’t have been able to do it in a better economy, because the cost of rent and fixtures would have all been at inflated prices, so our money wouldn’t have stretched as far.
So what kind of bands were you in?
Roth: I was in two different bands. One called Hydrophonix and another one called Urban Assault, which is more like Rage Against the Machine. I still play with them, actually. I go back and forth between here and Los Angeles.
I see you have Skinner’s artwork on your walls.
Roth: Yeah, Skinner’s one of our best customers. He came in about three weeks after we opened and we got to know him. And he’s been shipping with us ever since. In the time we’ve known him, he’s been getting more popular worldwide, so it’s been very interesting to work with him. He’s always coming in and sending his stuff out to different galleries around the world. It’s been very cool.
What do you think about Del Paso and its weird growing pains?
Roth: I graduated from Kennedy High in 1996, and I remember Del Paso Boulevard was like the place that you heard about and were told not to go to.
Lots of hookers.
Roth: Yeah, hookers, drug dealers—all-around tough area. But when we came back and were looking for locations and we saw the changes that had gone on, the streetscapes and the renovation of buildings, we really saw the potential. And shortly thereafter, new businesses came in; Walgreen’s came right after we did. It’s going to take some time. And there’s a lot of great shops and restaurants that are along the boulevard.
Do you think it will ever become like Midtown—or a place where people come to live, shop and hang out?
Roth: It has the potential. If like-minded people, who are putting their time and energy into the boulevard continue to go on the path that we are, then definitely. It’s set up for that. The infrastructure is there. The owner of this building is trying to do the same thing (across the street). A farmers’ market is one of the ideas he’s tossed around. There are so many good ideas that could be utilized if people are willing to put the time and energy into them.
So who’s that old guy who comes in here and drinks all day?
Roth: That’s the mayor of Del Paso. His name’s Tom. We met him shortly after moving in here. He knew my grandfather. He knows a lot about Sacramento, and he’s our historian.