Posted at: 06/18/2013 6:42 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A world-famous business on Santa Fe’s historic plaza will say “adios” and ride off into the sunset after this summer’s tourist season.
Packard’s – in business on the plaza since 1944 – will close its doors for keeps.
The store is legendary for its Native American arts and crafts. It caters to an upscale market – movie stars and oil sheiks and everybody else who has the money for good southwestern stuff – the real deal. Trouble is, there are fewer tourists who have that kind of money since the great recession started strangling the economy back in 2007 and 2008. That’s one big reason Packard’s is closing. Still, the tourists are in Santa Fe in healthy numbers and some of them will miss Packard’s for sure.
“Yeah, we actually came down to go to Packard’s and they’re closed right now,’ said Mike Griffith of Seattle. “We’ve been going there for thirty years so it’s really, really sad to see them go.”
But other tourists say – hey – life goes on!
“I think we’ve really enjoyed our time here,” said Samantha Hale of Los Angeles. “I think we both got little things that we like and lots of souvenirs for family and it’s been great. There’s lots of really neat things and the handmade things are really unique.”
“I think having the Native American culture here, having some of the art galleries, the phenomenal food – I don’t think we really could have found anywhere better,” said Katie Waybill of Hershey, Pennsylvania.
“It looks like it’s thriving to me,” said Sharon Snavely of Winter Haven, Florida. “I mean I haven’t seen it before, but it seems really busy. We had a tough time finding a parking place, so there’s a lot of people here.”
Earl Potter owns the Five and Dime store on the Plaza. He says he will miss Packard’s and its owners.
“It’s a family that has contributed a tremendous amount to Santa Fe and a business that has too,” Potter said. “But the plaza has been an active center of commerce for at least 400 years and businesses do come and go here.”
Here’s a vote of confidence in the future of the plaza – La Fonda is in the middle of a huge rebuild and remodel job, the kind of thing you don’t do if you have any doubts about the economic health of your neighborhood. And the plaza itself has never looked better after its recent rebuild job. There’s even a vintage-looking bandstand/stage that’s actually brand new but oozes history.
The big question now is – what will move in to Packard’s primo location? It’s right on the corner where Old Santa Fe Trail runs into the plaza – it doesn’t get more historic than that!