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Remembering the Santa Fe Plaza Merchants

In the 1960s when I was growing up everyone shopped on the Santa Fe Plaza. Back then store owners went out of their way to serve the needs of the community.  Gustav Kahn at Kahn’s Shoe store had the latest shoe fashions for both adults and children. Morey Goodman of Goodman’s Clothing, along with Tom and Jim Moore of Moore’s Men’s Wear sold men’s fine apparel.

High fashion clothing for women was handled by Max & Hanzel at Pfluegers and Abe and Miriam Silver at the Guarantee. For everyday clothing for both adults and children people went to Bell’s Apparel where Irving Bell personally waited on customers. Long before Zales came to town people entrusted their needs to Bernerd Spitz of Spitz Jewelers. Locals and tourists alike shopped at the curio shop owned by John Candelario. 

Santa Fe Plaza

When I was in high school I was a soda jerk at Capital Pharmacy which was owned by Gary Morris. All of the merchants would stop in from time to time to have lunch including Al Packard who sold Native American goods at his store Packard’s on the Plaza. Sam and Ethel Balen, the proprietors of La Fonda, also ate there. When my lunch duties were completed I would deliver prescriptions to guests at La Fonda. One of my favorites was Mrs. McCormick her family owned the McCormick spice company in Chicago, where many well-known landmarks are named in their honor.

National chain stores were also located in the area. J.C. Penney was on San Francisco Street with Montgomery Ward and Sears on Lincoln Street. Both J.C. Penney and Sears were full service department stores while Montgomery Ward had a small storefront where you could pick up your mail order packages. Later Montgomery Ward opened a store at the De Vargas mall.

For entertainment we all went to the movies at the Lensic which was owned by Solomon Greer. After the movies, in search of sustenance, we’d venture to the Plaza Diner run by the Razatos family or the Canton Café owned and operated by the Ghee family.

Today, the town center mainly caters to tourists and residents do their shopping at the local malls.  But there are many restaurants in the downtown area and the Lensic is now a performing arts center, so Santa Feans continue to take advantage of the beauty and rich history of the Santa Fe plaza.  

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