After absorbing many such lessons, he sought advice from the Small Business Administration, eventually opening the larger store on Sprague. Together with his partner, he added breads baked fresh on the premises, as well as smoked meats and fish. At first, he says, with the sluggish economy in Spokane, it was a challenge to make money. But in time, immigrants from Ukraine and Belarus found their way to the store for familiar foods from the old country. Now sales are growing and Mariupol Market is doing fine. Miller's kids, however, want to become professionals. He encourages them because it's an easier life -- one with better hours, holidays and vacations. In the store, at the end of the day, he says, "you still have to mop the floor."
Traditionally, owning a business has not been admired in Russian society, says Miller. In fact, right after the Russian revolution, it was prohibited altogether. But Baptists had no higher education or well-paid jobs because Russian society shut them out, he says. So among them, it was good to be in business. Nowadays, Russian immigrants often go into construction because it can be lucrative but does not involve much capital. Immigrants can underbid Americans but still offer high quality, he says. Long-haul trucking offers similar advantages, so Russians buy used trucks and compete by taking lower profits. Some even become successful enough to own trucking fleets.
Miller is familiar with the criticisms of immigrants who supposedly make it tough for Americans by accepting less money or working under bad conditions, but he points out they are in a no-win situation. Either they are criticized for taking jobs from Americans and lowering standards, or for taking public assistance if they are not working. Besides, he smiles, "That's what you call competition."