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Oldest of Chapur department stores unveils new look, 4th floor

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The granddaddy of the Chapur department stores, shown here before renovations. Photo: File

After several months of remodeling and expansion, the granddaddy of all the Chapur department stores will celebrate the end of construction with a special sale and a show.

The change has given the Calle 58 store a new look, closer to that of Gran Chapur Centro two blocks away, Gran Chapur Norte in Col. Mexico, and its fourth branch in Cancun. Another Gran Chapur is expected to open this year when it anchors the forthcoming Harbor mall at Via Montejo.

The Calle 58 store has historically been more modest, and unlike the upscale “Gran” stores, opens up to the sidewalk, suggesting a street bazaar.

The owners have added a fourth level, allowing all the departments and its cafeteria to spread out. The building now has an elevator for the first time.

“The remodeling was done with the comfort and convenience of our customers in mind,” the store management said. “All departments were expanded.”

The store did not close during renovations, so they’re not calling it a re-opening. But Chapur is luring shoppers with a sale today through Sunday on clothing, mattresses, furniture and electronics.

Purchases on a Chapur credit card will be interest-free for 18 months. Chapur was the first store to offer its own credit card in 1982. Thirty years earlier, Chapur was noted for being the first to offer cash discounts to customers.

Also, on the occasion of Children’s Day, a children’s show has been scheduled for Saturday.

Chapur was founded by a family of Lebanese-Syrian immigrants in 1952. First called Almacenes Chapur – Central de Telas, the shop began as a 150-square-meter fabric shop with nine employees.

The store flourished and by 1974 commanded a slightly futuristic three-story building, its flamboyant C H A P U R sign stretching the length of the storefront on a busy stretch of Calle 58 between 63 and 65.

That’s when Chapur became a department store, adding fashions, footwear, sportswear, perfumes, appliances and — a first in Mérida — its own cafeteria.

In 1987, the owners built a contemporary, somewhat monolithic Gran Chapur nearby. Mérida’s first department store, it introduced electronics and appliance departments. The store also computerized and streamlined its sales process.

Like the older Chapur, Gran Chapur Centro also has a cafeteria tucked away; both cafeterias gets consistently favorable reviews on social media.

In 2000, its elegant and even larger Gran Chapur Norte signaled a nod to the growing north and the launch of its furniture department and a full-service restaurant. Its Cancun branch was built in 2009.

Today, Chapur has 1,100 employees and is still owned by the same family, run by the Chapur Achach brothers: Miguel Angel, Armando José, Jorge Carlos and Abraham.

Chapur is expanding while similar stores in the United States and Canada are in decline. The contrast is seen also in Mérida’s two new shopping malls, bucking the downward trend of brick-and-mortar retail north of the border.

With information from Diario de Yucatán, Mérida de Yucatán, Chapur

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