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Sanborns at Fiesta Americana shuts down, ending 24-year run

Hotel zone's shopping arcade loses its elegant anchor store

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Sanborns at the Fiesta Americana hotel has closed for good. Photo: Picasa

Merida, Yucatan — The hotel zone Sanborns, which anchored the Fiesta Americana shopping arcade, has closed quietly after 24 years of operation.

In the largest store closing Merida has seen in years, doors were locked for the final time last weekend. Older employees took buyouts while others were offered jobs in nearby Sanborns branches, at Gran Plaza and Altabrisa, according to Sipse.

The Fiesta Americana branch was the first of the three Sanborns in Merida. It was cramped but elegant and slightly formal, reminiscent of the kind of eclectic, buttoned-down store that has mostly disappeared north of the border. It had a restaurant and pharmacy, as well as possibly the city’s best magazine selection. It also sold books, electronics, hosiery, candies, toys, jewelry and picture frames in departments that appeared just feet apart.

The chain, owned by well-known billionaire investor Carlos Slim, started shedding stores in 2017. In two years, Sanborns dropped from 176 to 165 locations.

At the beginning of the year, management announced that store closings were within Sanborns’ plan to optimize its strategy, improve customer service and renew its image. Some branches were to be closed temporarily and others for good.

A new Sanborns in Mexico was integrated within a Sears, also owned by Slim.

The Altabrisa Sanborns was closed seven months in 2018 after a fire wrecked the location, reopening with a ribbon-cutting in time for Christmas. Locally, the chain also faces competition from new Chapur and Liverpool branches at the new Harbor and La Isla malls, respectively.

The retail company was founded in Mexico City in 1903 by Californians Walter and Frank Sanborn. The original location, across from the city’s main post office, remains today.

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