The first time I had the pleasure of going around the island when I came back, I was shocked at how some businesses are no longer around, have changed locations, or the buildings are completely renovated and are under new businesses.
The more I drove around throughout the months, I couldn’t help but reminisce how certain buildings used to be the home to some of my favorite places during my childhood and teenage years, many of which I constantly long to return.
I was quite shocked when many of these places announced their departure as they’ve always looked very financially successful and always had an influx of customers whenever I visited. I don’t know the exact reason(s) why most of them shut down or why they were never brought back, but I’m still hopeful for at least one of their returns one day.
The featured photo for this post is credited to Vomar Products.
Companies That Should Make a Comeback in Saipan
LA FIESTA MALL
La Fiesta Mall was, in my opinion, THE ultimate spot to be at during the 90s and early 2000s. It was an open-air mall that opened in 1992 and had over 40+ stores and services, including luxury shops such as GUESS and Chanel, and restaurants, such as Tony Romas. There was also live entertainment, clothing retailers, dolphin fountains, and, my personal favorite, an arcade. The building itself looked magical. The parking lot was aesthetically pleasing to drive through. It was phenomenal, and I’m so thankful I got a chance to experience it for a couple of years before it closed down in 2004.
Jollibee is one of my top five favorite restaurants of all time. I can’t fully explain my love for it, but let’s just say that I can have Jollibee meals all day, every day for about a week without getting tired of it. I don’t remember my very first taste of their food, but from the year they opened on the island in 1999, I remember it as my go-to restaurant. It was the only other drive-through restaurant at the time as well. I remember having so much fun at their indoor playground, especially at the ball pit. I was upset when one of their two branches shut down in 2004, and I can still remember the shock and sadness I felt when they closed their final branch in 2009.
Mary’s Bakery was a lovely place. I remember my parents and me going there numerous times for the bread and other Filipino delicacies. My absolute favorite was their lomi, a Filipino dish made with a variety of thick fresh egg noodles, soaked in lye water, and, Mary’s Bakery’s version, included shrimp and beef. To make it even more *chef’s kiss* was adding calamansi and mixing everything together. Since then, I had not to find another place that makes their lomi the way that Mary’s Bakery does, and I really miss it.
Payless ShoeSource Saipan closed its doors in 2019, but I still can’t believe that it is no longer around. I’ve bought almost all of my footwear here my whole life. It was the only shoe store on the island with great quality footwear, accessories, and handbags at affordable prices. They had a wide variety of footwear to choose from, and I was always excited to be able to get new shoes, slippers, boots, and even socks from them.
EBISUYA DELI BAKERY
Ebisuya Deli Bakery was iconic. If you’ve been to Himawari Restaurant, you’ve experienced something similar to Ebisuya. I went to them almost every other day for their variety of fresh deli, bread, and occasional sushi. They offered a lot more, but I think their deli section was superior.
Townhouse was practically my shopping center. It offered a variety of different goods, such as clothing, sports equipment, furniture, appliances, makeup, footwear, etc., all in one space. Plus, they were pretty good quality at affordable prices. Today, Townhouse is under new management and is focused on furniture and appliances.
Dolphin was in a similar range as Townhouse. They offered household appliances and decorations, children’s toys, electronics, beauty products, holiday decorations (when a holiday was approaching), and stationery. This was a great spot for Christmas and birthday shopping, and I miss it so much! Today, Dolphin is under a new name and management and focuses more now on groceries.
For my Saipan readers, which of these would you want to bring back? For my off-island readers, which of these would you want to visit should they make their return to the island?