SIERRA VISTA — For more than two decades, Dee Cortez-Foote hasn’t stopped fighting.
Cortez-Foote owns Uptown 3 Theatre, located at 4341 S. Hwy 92 in Sierra Vista, and has for nearly 26 years. Her business venture hasn’t been easy and only seems to be getting harder. The concern for the local movie house owner is that if business doesn’t pick up, she may have to close the theater in the early stages of the new year.
“We know people are going to see movies,” she said. “I don’t know how much we have to increase by, but business has to at least double.”
Slow business combined with the increasing costs to maintain the theater and the equipment is making it hard for Cortez-Foote and her four employees to keep Uptown 3 open in Sierra Vista. Cortez-Foote said she doesn’t want to close the doors because of the loyal customers, but said the constant worry and stress isn’t good for her health.
“I’m doing the very best I can to keep the doors open,” she said. “It’s very difficult to keep this going.”
Cortez-Foote and her then business partner Liz Vogelgesang opened Uptown 3 Theatre in November 1993 in the same building it stands today. The owner said the pair always wanted to have a theater of their own after they worked in different theaters in the county. Vogelgesang passed away in 2005, leaving Cortez-Foote to operate the business by herself.
The theater had six great years, Cortez-Foote said, but after Cinemark opened in The Mall at Sierra Vista, their business began to decline.
“If we have 30 people for an opening I’m happy; I used to get 70 and be depressed,” she said.
She said they had saved in preparation of the then-new business taking part of their customers, but they didn’t expect the lack of business to continue like it has.
“It’s be a rough and bumpy road,” said Liz Vogelgesang’s son and Uptown 3 employee Bobby Vogelgesang.
One thing a local business like Uptown 3 can guarantee is personable customer service, Cortez-Foote said.
“We’re trying to get you to back everytime you walk through the door,” she said.
In an effort to provide the best experience for their customers, Cortez-Foote doesn’t charge sales tax (they eat that cost), she hasn’t raise concession prices in roughly eight years and they sell their tickets at the lowest possible prices, which is dictated by the movie companies.
Cortez-Foote also says their smaller size is beneficial for the elderly, those with handicaps and families because it allows for quicker access to concessions and restrooms.
“We have put up a heck of a fight,” Cortez-Foote said. “It’s been a 20-year fight.”