Aurora Market: Taking the "Mom and Pop" Shop to the Next Level

Aurora Market, a beloved "modern mom-and-pop shop" founded by Active-Duty Army Retiree Pablo Ortiz and Rahel Kassa, has quickly become a cherished establishment in our community since its opening in January 2022. With a recent expansion to a second location, Aurora Market continues to grow as a pillar of support, nourishment, and connection, embodying the power of community-driven entrepreneurship.


Right in the heart of our community stands Aurora Market, a “modern mom-and-pop shop” that has quickly become a cherished establishment since its opening in January 2022. This veteran-owned and family-operated market was established by Active-Duty Army Retiree Pablo Ortiz and Rahel Kassa. It has since grown to become the destination for a community looking for daily necessities, healthy food options, organic produce, and a place to meet and build relationships.

Aurora Market's commitment to the community goes beyond providing quality products. The owners have a long-term vision of expanding their business to helping other underserved communities around the DC area and beyond.

The genesis of Aurora Market can be traced to the feedback and recommendations of the local community. By recognizing the need for accessible and high-quality products, Ortiz and Kassa have curated a space that caters to a diverse range of nutritional needs. With an unwavering commitment to serving their customers, they have created an environment that fosters understanding and support for the community they proudly serve.

Ortiz brings over two decades of experience in Operations Management, Logistics, and Small Business Development to the table. Having served with in the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for 12 years, his experience has undoubtedly shaped his approach to managing Aurora Market, ensuring its operations run smoothly and efficiently.

To bring their vision to life, Aurora Market received assistance from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC). "LEDC provided us confidence. Knowing that there’s a non-profit dedicated to serving underserved entrepreneurs, especially Latinos," said Ortiz.

"To know that there’s an organization that we can turn to that not only helps with our business plan but also our financial strategies… They understand what it means to be an entrepreneur and a Latino entrepreneur at that. It was great knowing that we had somebody in our corner to assist us in our quest to reach our goals," Ortiz continued.

Recently, Aurora Market expanded its reach by opening a second location in Rhode Island Ave NE in addition to its original Columbia Heights store, further solidifying its rapid growth within the community. This expansion not only showcases the market's success but also reflects the community's desire for more inclusive and interactive spaces that foster relationships and contribute to the local economy.

"LEDC's work is essential. There is a huge gap in support for underserved communities to reach financial independence," Ortiz emphasized. "You can see what [LEDC's] work translates to. It translates to individuals that have limited resources getting opportunities through LEDC to finally realize their dreams and be successful in creating generational wealth and becoming a contributing member to the community."

Aurora Market stands as a testament to the power of community-driven entrepreneurship. With Ortiz and Kassa at the helm, this veteran-owned and family-operated market has established itself as a pillar of support, nourishment, and connection. As they continue to grow and expand their, the people of our community can rest assured that Aurora Market will remain steadfast in its mission to provide exceptional products and foster a vibrant community spirit.