What The End Of Kress Means To Puerto Ricans

Over the years, as mall culture spread in Puerto Rico, local stores like Kress, González Padín, and Infinito slowly lost the battle against U.S. retail chains. When the financial crisis deepened in Puerto Rico in the late aughts, the archipelago’s retail hubs dwindled, a reality that only worsened as the government filed for bankruptcy and natural disasters like Hurricane María and the 2020 earthquakes propelled millions to leave. Hubs like the famous Paseo de Diego, a walkable, bustling street in San Juan that used to house Puerto Rican-owned stores, theaters, restaurants, and bars in the late 20th century were impacted, too. My mom always used to tell me about Paseo de Diego, urging me to go there in between classes at the University of Puerto Rico, which was just a few blocks away. But by the time I reached college in 2012, little was left of the fabric stores and the cafes that my mom used to frequent. By 2019, local newspaper Primera Hora described Paseo de Diego as “chaotic and depressive.” Somehow Kress, along with all the memories it helped clothe throughout our lives, had made it out of this mess. Until it didn’t. 

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