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Nogales store closing after more than 90 years in business

Posted at 10:01 PM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-09 03:38:15-04

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) Its neon sign is a familiar sight on Morley Avenue.   

Now the storefront at Bracker's Department Store is bearing a sad sign for customers. After 93 years in business, everything must go.

It was a tough decision for the family, said co-owner Bruce Bracker.

"You're dealing with a family legacy and those decisions you don't take lightly," Bracker said.

Citing a downturn in business and a decrease in cross-border customers, Bracker says the family made the difficult decision to sell.

"Physically we're in the United States, economically we're in Mexico," Bracker said. "Eighty-percent of our customers, at least 80% of our customers, come from northern Mexico."

Bracker's has been around for decades. Moving from building to building, the family has been in its current location on Morley Avenue since the 1950's. It's now run and owned by Bracker and his cousin Debbie Bracker Senday. 

When Bracker Senday announced on a Nogales Facebook page that the store was closing, the post got hundreds of reactions. Below is a portion of the post: 

Our slogan of "Si es de Brackers tiene que ser bueno" has endured a lifetime. It is remembered and will always be remembered. Our billboard on the way to Tucson of "Al regreso, en Brackers lo encuentras" has become iconic as well. It speaks the truth.

Some shared fond memories and expressed sadness that the store is closing.

Bracker says over the years many of the employees at the store have spent entire careers working there. Some have spent 50, 60 years working at the store.

Myrna Canez started working at Bracker's when she was 17-years-old.

"I started selling in the store and then I started as a buyer in charge of my department," Canez said.

Thirty-eight years later, Canez is an expert in evening wear and has learned what her customers like. She has helped dress elected officials and many regulars from Mexico who are looking for something special that you can't find anywhere else.

It's hard for her not to get emotional about the closure. 

"Our customers love the store so much they start calling me and cry with me," Canez said. 

It was Bracker's grandparents, Charles and Pearl Bracker, who first bought an Army store on Morley Avenue in 1924. It was passed down to their three sons -- Robert, Harvey and Paul. It was in 2009 that Bracker and Bracker Senday took over the business. Bracker says his parents and grandparents instilled a longstanding tradition of community involvement in the family.

Family members have served on numerous boards and committees throughout southern Arizona, a legacy Bracker hopes lives on.

"I think what's important to remember is that it's important to give back to the community," Bracker said. "If you're in business in this community, it's important to give back to the community. The community needs it."

Bracker's will close in mid-October. 

The building will be taken over by a discount retailer, Bracker said, but he could not reveal the name.