Posted on March 24, 2005

Malls Bringing Mexico-Flavored Goods, Ambience to Valley

Christine L. Romero, Arizona Republic (Phoenix), Mar. 23

The nation’s first chain of Hispanic malls will bring the flair and cultura of Mexico to Arizona this summer.

Expect silver and leather merchants, tortilla makers, a wedding chapel and a child-care center to be among the offerings at the Mexican shopping centers, called Zócalo Mall.

The Phoenix-based chain takes its name from “el zócalo,” which serves as a town square and is the community heartbeat of many Mexican cities and towns. A Roman Catholic church, government offices, financial institutions, retailers, restaurants and social venues usually flank real zócalos, which also are called plazas.

Zócalo Mall plans to feature similar offerings and build 20 shopping centers nationwide over the next 24 months in Arizona (including Tucson), California, Texas, New Mexico and possibly Chicago. Metro Phoenix is Zócalo Mall’s launching pad, given the area’s large number of Hispanics and their swelling economic influence.

Hispanic culture and language are becoming a force of change across the United States, where salsa sales outpaced ketchup as the top condiment just a few years ago. And tortillas are fast becoming the next sliced bread.