Mario’s Family Clothing Center, a small family owned business in National City, usually has dozens of cardboard boxes with new merchandise to unwrap. This time, the boxes are repackaged.
After more than 50 years, the store is closing as the owners prepare the site for the opening of a new business in National City Plaza on Division Street and Euclid Avenue.
“It’s been a bit difficult the last few days,” said owner Mario DeAnda, son of the late Mario Marquez DeAnda, who founded the family business in 1968. He and his sons are preparing the store for an indefinite closure from here. the start of next week.
Mario’s Family Clothing has sold everything from shoes and accessories to school and work uniforms. Part of the site is slated to be turned into a hallway for a new Planet Fitness slated to open in the fall in an adjacent unit, which was previously the family-owned Wrigley’s supermarket, said Susan Rounds of leasing company Red Mountain. Retail Group.
The owners had offered to let DeAnda keep 1,200 of the site’s 1,800 square feet or move to another location in the mall, but DeAnda refused.
“I was trying to make the store bigger, but after really thinking about it, I decided to go help my brother in the other stores, but people are disappointed,” DeAnda said.
The National City location was the first to open, but Mario’s Family Clothing has two other locations, one in Lemon Grove, which opened about 25 years ago, and the other in Santee, which has been operating for. 2008.
The clothing center also had a store in El Cajon, but this was closed after the owners had other plans for the site, said Michael DeAnda, Mario’s son who helped run the business. family since the age of 14.
“It has been a real blessing to be here all these years. I grew up playing in the neighborhood, so it’s sad to know that it won’t be here anymore, ”said Michael. “It’s a matter of generations. I was 14 (years old) when I started working and now I am 31 years old.
Much like Michael and his siblings, Mario grew up helping his father run the business before inheriting the store at the age of 23 in the late 1970s.
“I held on at that age, but my dad never gave up on us. He set an example, ”said Mario.
Her father opened the clothing center in 1968 after becoming a pioneer supplier to the National City Swap Meet, which began in 1962 and continues to take place every weekend on D Avenue.
“From the Swap Meet he built the store and we’ve been here ever since,” Mario said.
By operating decades after decades, the store’s customers have become multigenerational shoppers. Over the past few days, the people of National City have prepared to say goodbye to one of their hometown’s favorite small businesses. Among them, Patricio Solano Barba, who regularly buys work clothes and now clothes for his children.
“I’m quite upset because I’ve been coming here for years,” he said. “I mainly collect all my work clothes here because I am a landscaper. And that’s what hurts me the most. My friends and I started our own small business, so I understand. We need the small businesses in the community to stay. “
For resident Patty Garcia, closing the store is bittersweet.
“Every time I went there, for a gift or socks or whatever, (Mario) spoke to you like he had known you for years, like a relative. He called you ‘mijo’ or ‘mija’ “She said, claiming that Mario referred to some customers as” son “or” daughter. “While sad to see the store disappear, she added,” I can see both ends. The growth at National City is good, it’s always good to attract new business, but it’s also good to have those who have worked hard to keep their business open.
As the family prepares to close the center, Mario has said he has no plans to retire.
“If it was in God’s will, I would have stayed another 10 to 20 years because I don’t sit down. It’s the Latino way. We don’t give up. he said.
Mario said he would help manage the Lemon Grove location.
For National City, however, “it won’t be the same,” Barba said.