Fallas is back.
One of Downtown El Paso’s largest retailers reopened Friday morning after a 15-month closure due to a COVID-19-induced sales decline.
The reopening of the Fallas discount department store at 301 E. San Antonio Ave., came sooner than company officials had anticipated last week, when they announced the store would reopen this month.
“The first (merchandise) truck arrived Tuesday of this week and employees worked a lot quicker than we expected, and were eager to get the store open,” said Chris Nichols, chief operating officer for Fallas Stores, a small retail chain based in the Los Angeles area.
“We had customers coming to the doors asking when we were going to open,” so the decision was made to open quickly while additional merchandise continues to flow to the store, he said.
Fallas sells women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, and home products.
“We’re seeing customers from Mexico using pesos and also local customers living in the neighborhood” shopping at the store since it reopened, Nichols said.
Company officials decided to reopen the store because the United States-Mexico border was fully reopened Nov. 8 to COVID-19 vaccinated Mexican shoppers.
The store relies on shoppers from Mexico for much of its sales.
Border crossing restrictions had been in place 19 months, causing Downtown merchants to lose a huge chunk of their sales.
Eight employees who worked at the store prior to its temporary closure in July 2020 have returned, including the store manager, Nichols said. Six new employees also were hired, he said.
The reopened store occupies the huge, main floor of the 100-year-old building designed by Henry Trost, the late, iconic El Paso architect. It once was the flagship location for The Popular department store, a small El Paso chain that went of business many years ago.
The Downtown store is one of 66 operated by Fallas, which went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2018. It also operates a store at 115 S. Americas Ave., in the Lower Valley.
The store will have its grand opening on Nov. 26, Black Friday, Nichols said.
Store hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m., daily, but could change, he said.