JACOME'S DEPARTMENT STORE: BUSINESS AND CULTURE IN TUCSON, ARIZONA, 1896-1980 (HISPANIC, MEXICAN-AMERICAN, HISTORY, MANAGEMENT, BORDERLANDS).
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn 1896, Carlos Jacome opened "La Bonanza," a general mercantile store in downtown Tucson. For eighty-four years the store flourished, evolving into a mainstay of Tucson's retail life as Jacome's Department Store. As the store grew and prospered it developed a distinctive image derived from the Mexican-American background of its owners and managers which set it apart from other retail establishments in Tucson's downtown business district. Special attention placed on the two men guiding Jacome's growth and development, Carlos and later his son, Alex, Sr., provided an opportunity to examine the interaction between Mexican-American culture and the store's internal and external environments. Additionally, comparisons between Jacome's and their competitors, Anglo-owned retail stores in the downtown business district, delineated the effect of culture upon Jacome's organizational structure and the store's survival strategy. Like Jacome's, each of these stores had its roots in an era when Tucson was far removed from the mainstream of American economic life and local concerns dictated survival. Fundamental changes in American business organization, economy, and values beginning with World War I and reaching maturity during the 1920's portended an end to Tucson's placid retail environment. Many of these changes brought short-term benefits, but by the 1960's it was evident that in the long run they had worked against the independent retailers' interests. Increasingly, like their counterparts across the United States, Tucson's merchants encountered increased competition from chain stores and shopping centers, as well as problems tied to their central city location and the repeal of federal and state fair trade laws. As problems multiplied each retailer in downtown Tucson pursued a separate survival strategy. Primary in Jacome's strategic decisions was the precedence family interests took over the maximum exploitation of economic opportunities. Ultimately, however, whatever decision was reached, Tucson's independent department stores faced extinction. Within a few years of Jacome's closing in 1980 the last of the old-time department stores, at one time synonymous with retailing in Tucson, were gone.