Despite a life full of pain and setbacks, entrepreneur Roy Lee Perez, Jr. found the strength to rise from the ashes of a hard-fought life to achieve his dream of starting Smokeville CBD Dispensary, an upscale smoke shop in Corpus Christi that is already expanding and opening a second location in Kingsville in less than a year of its initial opening.
When asked how he came by his success, Perez always gives the same reply.
“It’s because I found God,” Perez said, attributing all aspects of his business, from selecting vendors, finding a building, procuring merchandise, and even deciding on the decor, to the help of a higher power.
“I had a rough start in life as my mom had left when I was only a year old and my dad struggled with alcoholism, so the first two decades of my life was spent partying, having bad influential friends and getting in trouble with the law,” Perez said.
“I wasn’t able to connect with people because I suffered from trust issues and sometimes found myself turning to illegal means to try to hustle and make a living.”
A turning point occurred for Perez when he decided he wanted to have a better relationship with his son and work on his own spirituality.
“I started attending Church Unlimited, and after finding God in my life, I felt like I needed to renew myself the fastest possible to make up for the past 25 years that I wasted,” he said.
“I focused on exercising, attending church regularly, telling people about God, and working hard on my business.”
Perez recognized he had a passion for negotiation and wanted to start his own alternative health product business. During the pandemic, his client base expanded as he found more consumers seeking alternative means of pain management, sleep aids, anxiety and stress relief.
“Thanks to the help of a business mentor who took me under his wing and even gave me access to his distributor, I was able to provide quality products for my customers.”
Perez first operated his store from home, as well as his vehicle, sometimes while parked in front of public places, including his church parking lot.
Perez worked tirelessly, investing money in advertising and distributing tens of thousands of flyers by hand, while forming network connections and marketing directly to customers.
“I would often give free samples of the gummies to new customers and so far, they keep coming back as the products I offer are high quality and effective.
As business grew, Perez was able to acquire a building on SPID inside Pueblo Park Mall. Initially Perez tried adding a second store in Kingsville, but chose to relocate it back to Corpus Christi. Kingsville, however, became the inspiration for his company name, Smokeville.
In 2022, Smokeville’s second location opened on McArdle in the building that was once a drive-through liquor store. The building’s new owner believed in Perez’s vision and his desire to make Smokeville a successful business.
The new store features a spacious, spa-like modern interior design with a large flatscreen TV, ambient music, a lounge area for relaxing, and a display of products ranging from gummies, oils, ointment creams, edibles, juices as well as upscale vape, and smoke products.
“I want people to come in and feel comfortable and relaxed in a clean enviornment, because some people have a misconception that CBD Dispensaries can look like shady headshops.
For Perez, money is not the objective of his business, rather, to help people and serve as an inspiration to others who felt broken before, to prove to them that they can rise up.
“I live with no fear because I am putting myself in God’s hands,” he said. “I wake up 5:00am and sleep at 10:00pm. Every morning I send out motivational videos to my social media followers, and I am training my employees to become future business leaders. I’d rather be a mentor than a boss.
“My dream in the future is to one day build a foundation to help to pick up broken people, and give them a helping hand so they can heal.”
For future entrepreneurs, Perez encourages them to pursue their dreams.
“Be disciplined, believe in something bigger than yourself, work on yourself, start in baby steps, get someone to push you. For me, it was me and God. I went through so much pain so I could produce what I have now.”