It was never at the very top of my list, but I have been really curious about Liverpool, the upscale department store in northern Mérida. The whole Galerias Mérida, in fact, with an ice-skating rink at its core, has been somewhere in the middle-bottom of my list. I wanted to see just how posh Liverpool really was, and I had to see that ice rink, a very nice use for the center of a shopping mall.
Think that people in the tropics wouldn’t know how to ice skate? Wrong. There were some fancy skaters out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if an ice hockey league started before long. I also ticked another item on my list: We each had a cookie from Kukis by Maru. Delicious! Rich, natural chocolate flavor and just enough sweetness. Energized by the sugar surge, we strode past the Casino Life (which is not anywhere on my list) and a bunch of little boutiques and headed to Liverpool.
We went to go shopping. Not just everyday shopping, but shopping for Casa Nana. We needed a washer-dryer, fridge, and a range hood. Our designer had compared models and prices at other places, and decided Liverpool was the place to go. It was also close to Green Haus, a new bath and kitchen showroom at Plaza Temozón Norte, across from the Mérida campus of the Universidad del Valle de México. They’re supplying Country Towers, so I guess they’re good enough for us. So Green Haus is where our bathtub and faucets are coming from. It’s a brand-new showroom, very modern, and carries brands so upscale I’ve never even heard of them. Needless to say, no Clearance Sale signs were evident.
But being a properly thrifty New Englander, I love a good sale. Building from afar, it’s hard to catch a break, however. The kitchen faucet could have been a deal because Green Haus had bought them in bulk for Country Towers. But we wanted the kind you can lift from the base and spray. Oh well. That’s more money, and not discounted.
I could have bought our kitchen sink at 30 percent off on Amazon and lugged it down, but instead I let the architect buy it in Mexico, at full price. Grrrr. In the scheme of things, what’s a few hundred dollars, but psychologically, it feels crummy to pay full price.
At least at Liverpool, my range hood was on sale. A whopping 10% off. Can you imagine Macy’s or Sear’s troubling with such a measly discount? But at least it was something. And if I paid cash right there, they’d knock off another 15%. Now you’re talking, Liverpool. Someone told me that paying cash often gets you a discount in the department stores. Something to keep in mind. So I pulled out my wallet and bought the range hood right there. It was a small victory, but it felt satisfying. Horray for me.
So how upscale is Liverpool? Hard to say. As you enter the building through the menswear section, there are racks of fashion from Dockers and Haggar. How middlebrow can you get? There are more fashionable labels, but this is what greets you where Polo Ralph Lauren would probably reside at your workaday Macy’s, the chain that Liverpool most reminds me of. But then we encountered the little restaurant. Now there’s something I haven’t seen in a while. The department store restaurant is a lost tradition in the U.S. Only the really upscale chains like Bergdorf’s or Nordstrom, especially in or near large cities, seem to have dining rooms for the ladies who lunch. Also, the gourmet section, where we saw fancy chocolates, smoked oysters, and wines, was pretty nice. I bought some iced tea for the ride home and a nice $135 peso Malbec for dinner. That won me over, and the very existence of a little upscale food area recalled Strawbridge & Clothier in Philly or even the Food Hall at Harrod’s (albeit on a much, much more modest scale). Now I’m interested in seeing its flagship store in Mexico City, where I understand there is a roof garden. As you can tell, I’m a department store nostalgist. I lament how lame they’ve become here in the States, where they exist at all.
By the way, there’s one big similarity between Liverpool and the U.S. department stores: they like to push the seasons. It was the end of August and already they had a Halloween display. So happy Día de las Brujas.