PoliticsImmigration48 Hours on the Border


Some US-Mexico border businesses see shopping habits change

Businesses on the U.S.-Mexico border depend on people from each side to buy products and services — but entrepreneurs say that's changing.
Posted at 10:49 PM, Mar 15, 2024

Businesses in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, rely on cross-border shoppers to stay afloat in both the U.S. and Mexico. 

City data in Nogales, Arizona, estimates between 60% to 70% of the total annual sales and hotel revenue comes from Mexican and cross-border shoppers who come into the U.S. to shop. 

Gregory Kory owns Kory’s and La Cinderella stores in Nogales, Arizona. His parents started the retail business nearly 80 years ago. Kory’s storefront is feet away from the US-Mexico border. 

"We've always depended on the Mexican customer," Kory said. "They did come for holiday, not as strongly as they used to."

Transborder students face barriers as they seek higher education
Students sit through a lecture at a school.

Transborder students face barriers as they seek higher education

In southern Arizona, students who cross the border into the U.S. from Mexico to earn college degrees face some significant delays at the border.


While the family business boomed for decades, Kory says, shopping habits have changed. 

He attributes lasting changes in shopping habits to pandemic-era closures and a recent monthslong closure of the small port entrance in front of his shop. 

"People had to find other sources, other ways of finding their merchandise and getting their needs, and they did," Kory said. "There's a lot of businesses closing." 

Kory said he's not giving up, having to get creative with pricing, marketing, and outreach to compete with stores south of the border. 

"We just have to find a different way of doing it," Kory said. "A way of doing it that is sustainable." 

Meanwhile, on the Sonoran side, businesses are booming, in part because of American shoppers who go across to save money, from medicine to dining out and beyond. Dr. Rafael Valencia at Black Aesthetics said 90% of his clients come from the U.S. for things like Botox and fillers. 

"I focus on medical tourism," Valencia said. "It's really the same product that they use in the United States but, obviously, with much lower prices." 

While Mexico has different medical regulations, Valencia said he has an extensive six-year postgraduate education specializing in cosmetic surgery. Patients Without Borders lists Mexico among the top countries outside the U.S. for medical tourism.

This story was originally published by Lillian Donahue at Scripps News Phoenix