Grand old lady leaves memories
PANAMA. “Only you can make this world seem right ? Only you can make my darkness light ?. ” the plaintiff sound of a song made famous b...
PANAMA. “Only you can make this world seem right ? Only you can make my darkness light ?. ” the plaintiff sound of a song made famous by The Platters, hangs hauntingly over the empty shelves as an old lady of Panama prepares to leave center stage on Calle 50.
Dante, the store that has for 104 years, has survived recessions and, in its present location, post US invasion looting, is finally closing its doors beaten down by the march of “progress”.
The Calle 50 landmark with its adjacent sales center for Jaguars and Land and Range Rovers, is heading for the wreckers’ hammers to make way for what our “planners” yearn for, one more high rise, but for many it means the disappearance of a gentler way of shopping in an era where the glitter and crowds of malls provide the siren call.
Meanwhile a closing out sale is underway with discounts of 35-50 percent on everything from perfumes to clothes and accessories, and among the many nostalgic shoppers I have spotted leading lights from our governing and court system, ambassadors and those who have loved the old lady who survived an orgy of looting in 1989 and went back to providing sterling service.
It has been a store where staff remembered customers’ names, and even passed a cup of freshly made coffee, to provide fortitude when studying the prices of some of the high end items.
But be sure, you would get a friendly phone call when a sale was upcoming, or some item, or shoe size you had been looking for suddenly appeared on the shelves.
Alas the boutiques store at one end now holds nothing but empty racks and the perfume shelves are all but cleared
Many of the staff, who once numbered around 100, have already left. Of the remainder, some have served with diligence for up to 40 years, proving that “service” is not totally dead in the city.
The car dealership will be re located to Costa Del Este, and until year end a beauty treatment center will still be open, but the accommodating old lady, will be gone. She and her staff will be missed, and another concrete and glass superstructure will reach for the skies.