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Life returns to Polanco

Published March 09, 2021 By Fernanda Cardoso

A month ago, I shared my impressions of the high street of Mexico City retail, Masaryk.  I was dismayed to see that during the mandated shut down due to Covid, retailers just boarded up, with a few exceptions, without concern for the effect on the community. Now, after months of being locked up, to the voice of "open or die", the restaurants, boutiques and stores managed to obtain permits and concessions to be able to open their doors.

I decided to take a walk-through Polanco, the district that is home to Masaryk, to see how things were going and I was pleased to see that people were in the streets, some with face masks, others not.

The restaurants set up tables in the street taking a traffic lane to allow for more tables, since the condition was to operate in open spaces with the security measures that we all know. So, some streets were closed for this purpose and became pedestrian walkways to facilitate more tables.  

With a lot of good taste and imagination the restaurants delimited their spaces with plants and pots with flowers, making the streets inviting, pleasing places to be. To all this, add an extraordinary sunny winter day, with fresh air, and you have the makings of a re-boot, a renaissance if you will.

Whole families were out strolling and eating. The stores were finally open; restricted schedules, but open. Some stores were changing the decorations of their windows for the new season, others had already done this while they were closed. A welcome sense of normalcy.

The staff, both in the restaurants and in the stores, smiling with their eyes, were all eager for the customers to arrive. The value and importance of pleasing the customer and creating an experience for them was on full display.  Noted, I didn't see many people with shopping bags. I think for the stores it will take some time to have their customers back, as I see it was more urgent to socialize than to buy right now. But once people come back out to indulge their culinary senses, to breathe the fresh air and to spend time with neighbors, the shopping will follow.

I have always believed that the most important aspect of retail centers is to create a place of community.  The growing habit of buying more and more online will take some time to reverse. I believe, however, that the need for community will win out, especially if the retailers continue to focus on the experiences they create. I could only think that hopefully, this marvelous weather will last for a long time and we all can recover, little by little. These have been very difficult months for all of us and being part of the community has never been more important.