The Oechsle department store has an almost legendary status, at least among Limeños old enough to remember the good old times.
The History of Oechsle department stores in Lima
Already in 1888 the German immigrant Augusto Fernando Oechsle opened a small shop selling threads, laces and buttons imported from Europe. Soon he expanded his product range to textiles, home decoration and toys. Peru's first department store was born and by 1917 had its flagship store at Lima's prestigious Plaza de Armas. Oechsle was the largest store of any kind and the only place in Lima selling this great variety of imported goods. It was also home to the country's first electric elevator to take customers between the different floors. By 1945 the shop sold everything for the home: decorative items, furniture and kitchen items, as well as clothes and toys. Oechsle was regarded as the department store in Lima where the upper class could get elegant and stylish items nowhere else to find in Lima.
From the middle of the 20th century onwards the rich moved out of the city center to more luxurious homes in the upper-scale districts of San Isidro, Miraflores and Surco. In the 1960s Oechsle opened the second department store in the district of San Isidro. During the 1970s more shopping facilities emerged in Lima and Oechsle became a household name for all middle class families. Due to marriage the Oechsle chain passed into the hands of the Monterey supermarket chain in the 1980s.
Back in the days Oechsle had its first department store in Limas city center directly at Plaza de Armas
Interior of the Oechsle department store at Lima's main plaza in 1924
Oechsle installed in its department store the first elevator in Peru. Here a picture from 1924.
Oechsle department store at Lima's Plaza de Armas
At this time Lima, and basically whole Peru, faced already serious social problems. Due to economic mismanagement by the military regime, natural disasters and the fall of international commodity prices, the production decreased, wages depressed, unemployment exaggerated and inflation increased dramatically. The economic collapse worsened living conditions for all. The emergence of the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in rural areas was shortly afterwards followed by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) that was established in Lima. This sent the country and Lima further into chaos. Even if most terrorist activities took place far away from Lima, the city still was a favored place for assassinations, bombings and overall violence. The city center, still home to Oechsle's flagship store, deteriorated and became the home of street markets, people struggling to make a living, prostitutes, drug dealers and thugs. The Oechsle chain collapsed and was bankrupt by 1993.
Oechsle department stores today
Over the next almost 20 years Oechsle passed into history, so did the country's economic and terrorist problems. But it was never forgotten. In 2009 Oechsle, now owned by the Peruvian Interbank which bought the name of the Oechsle brand, opened again its first department store not in Lima, but in the Andean city of Huancayo. The next store was opened in Trujillo. And finally with the completion of the new Commercial Center Real Plaza in the city center Lima saw the return of Oechsle, for nearly 100 years the most successful and important department store in South America. In 2010 Oechsle opened its doors in Ica and in 2011 the second Oechsle store in Lima on the famous Jiron de la Union was inaugurated. And there are plans for further expansion in Lima itself and in Peru's provinces.
The Peruvian owned department store today is like others a modern shopping facility, selling everything from local and imported clothes, shoes, perfumes, home decoration and house hold appliances. Oechsle has its own bank and credit card (Tarjeta Oh!).
For all locations of Oechsle department stores check out their webpage under "Nuestras Tiendas".