While living briefly in Mexico City, I visited palatial stores with names like Palacio de Hierro and Liverpool and regularly did my homework at a cafe-bookstore called Gandhi. This past weekend, feeling the shopping spirit, I visited a newly-opened Gandhi and Liverpool in Tijuana that are part of a small commercial center near the San Ysidro border.
The Liverpool here is not a full-blown department store like the ones I’ve visited in other parts of Mexico. Instead, it is a “duty free” store and merchandise consists primarily of designer purses, watches and cosmetics/perfumes. An employee there told me that it’s part of a new concept in places like Cancun and Tijuana to attract tourists and, in particular, Mexican-Americans who are familiar with the Liverpool name.
Tijuana, despite being a city of roughly 1.5 million people, is really a small-town kind of place when it comes to bumping into people. I had just read in the Tijuana weekly Zeta that the city’s former head of public security, Alberto Capella, was seen shopping at Liverpool, where some watches go for about $3,000. The city’s mayor, Jorge Ramos, had also reportedly been spotted buying much-cheaper candy.
I didn’t see anyone I knew at Liverpool, but I did run into Frontera reporter Sergio Ortiz at the Gandhi bookstore. He and a colleague were browsing through the CD racks with their camera gear slung over their shoulders, waiting for the radio call that would take them to the next crime scene.
The Gandhi store is much smaller than the ones I’ve been to in other parts of Mexico but it seems to be drawing a crowd. My only gripe, which is apparently shared by some Mexicans, is that it doesn’t have a cafe. I have fond memories of sipping tea and savoring tres leches cake at the Gandhi bookstore-cafe in Mexico City’s Coayacan neighborhood. Nostalgia aside, the new stores have brought a shiny new sheen to the Tijuana commercial scene, though I don’t expect to be buying any $800 purses there anytime soon.
* Directions to commercial center: Enter Tijuana at San Ysidro port of entry. Take exit to Paseo de los Heroes/Zona Rio. The Pavilion Plaza Tijuana center is at the first intersection you hit, on your right and across from Costco. Underground parking is available.