Tag Archives: Phoenix Culture

Vintage Culture Expanding In Downtown Phoenix

May 2, 2016, 6:00pm MST

Anyone who has driven through downtown Phoenix recently has seen the construction on every corner and dozens of new restaurants and coffee shops.

Contrastingly, if they drive four miles north of downtown along 7th Avenue, they’ll encounter a neighborhood with rich history and 20-year-old small businesses surrounded by historic districts like Woodlea and Pierson Place.

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The Melrose District In Downtown Phoenix, AZ

The Melrose District, nestled between Camelback and Indian School roads, is a place to shop for vintage clothing and antiques, eat at locally-owned restaurants and service your car at an old-school auto body shop. It might stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to the new developments downtown, but that’s exactly what has made the district so successful over the years.

Melrose prides itself on being “a shining star in the Metro Phoenix area,” but what really shines is the rich vintage culture there. What makes vintage work so well in the Valley? Some store owners in the district say it’s because of Phoenix’s unique history, the supportive community and being able to adapt to change.

Phoenix’s unique history

More people are buying and selling vintage artifacts than ever before, according to a study by The Association of Resale Professionals. In fact, the U.S. resale industry has seen an average growth of 7 percent each year since 2012. Many cities have hopped on the vintage trend, and Phoenix in particular has become a destination for some of the best quality vintage at a cheap price.

Arizona’s southwestern roots make it a prime location to find vintage vests, cowboy boots and denim. Phoenix specifically is well-known for its mid-century modern architecture, which makes vintage furniture highly sought after too.

Retro Ranch owner Indigo Hunter said customers often come through her store looking for 50’s, 60’s and 70’s pieces.

“A lot of people have ranch-style homes, and the furniture works in it because it’s scaled properly,” she said.

Sarah Bingham, co-owner of Antique Sugar, said high rates of retirement and the ideal climate in Arizona also benefit the vintage culture.

“People come here to retire from all over the country, and then when they get here they have all their fabulous clothes,” she said.

Due to the abundance of vintage clothing in Arizona, Bingham said store owners can afford to sell their merchandise for cheaper prices than you’d find in Los Angeles or New York.

“And the climate’s really good…we don’t lose a lot of our stuff to rot because it’s dry here,” she said.

The district’s supportive community

The tight-knit community within the Melrose District is another reason vintage culture has lasted in the Valley. The majority of the district is made up of passionate small business owners as opposed to “big boxes,” as Hunter calls them.

“A lot of those are vintage and antique shops, and you kind of feel like that’s our tribe,” she said.

Bingham said she’s been to other towns where the resale industry is cutthroat, but that’s not the case in the district.

“We actually go out for cocktails with all the shop owners often,” she said.

Jeanne Wiesley, the owner of Pearly Mae’s, agreed that the Melrose community is uniquely friendly. Wiesley moved her store to the district in 2014 and said she was instantly welcomed with support.

“Everybody encourages everyone else’s success,” she said.

For instance, if she doesn’t have an item that a customer is looking for, Wiesley said she will happily send them to another store in the area because they would do the same.

Michael Hardesty said he experienced a similar camaraderie when he bought one of the largest vintage stores in the district, Zinnias at Melrose, in 2009. Hardesty even received advice from some of the shop owners on the ins and outs of the neighborhood and how to make his business last.

Adapting to a changing environment

Despite the district’s overall success over the past two decades, not all businesses have stood the test of time.

“Stores are going to come and go, and that’s not necessarily a red flag,” Hardesty said. “It’s just life.”

“Everything’s changing all the time,” Hunter said. “You pretty much always have to stay on your toes and be aware of what’s going on.”

One way Hunter and the other store owners have kept their businesses alive is by going online to cater to a younger demographic. For some of the owners, the prospect of going online is intimidating initially, given their longtime comfort with in-person interactions. Even so, having a digital presence has helped financially.

Wiesley said she recently started selling more of her inventory through Ebay and Etsy accounts during the summer.

“It’s a new world for me, but if it pays the bills we’re going to do it,” she said.

Another way vintage stores in the district have adapted is by pushing heavily on social media. In lieu of print advertising, Hardesty said he advertises aggressively on social media and through email campaigns.

Social media has helped a lot and really developed our brand,” he said.

For stores that make a living off of vintage artifacts, developing a strong brand is particularly important with all of the new development downtown. Fortunately, the vintage store owners see more opportunities from Phoenix’s development than threats.

Bingham, who recently relocated her store from the district to a new downtown building, said business is better than ever. In fact, she credits the changing environment to some of the store’s recent success.

“I say the more people the better,” Bingham said.

Wiesley moved to Phoenix in 1979, when she said people hardly ever went downtown. With the recent revitalization taking place, she’s shocked to see so many people walking around.

“I would rather have a high-rise there and show growth and potential in what our city can be to young and old,” she said.

Hunter is also in support of the developing culture, but cautions against too much change.

“I know that they’re building up downtown, but we still have to take care of the culture and the small business and not make it too corporate,” Hardesty said. “People are in business to make money, so it’s tough.”

Phoenix’s recent cultivation coupled with the need to grow digitally to continue making profits presents new-age opportunity to an old-age culture. But with a supportive community and unique history to back it up, the owners believe Phoenix’s vintage culture will continue to prosper.

“I think there’s always going to be a place for vintage,” Wiesley said.

Fry’s to Open a Full Service Grocery Store in Downtown Phoenix

Courtesy: Downtown Phoenix Journal

Fry’s Food Stores Announces New Location in the Heart of Downtown Phoenix

55,000 Square-Foot Full-Service Grocery Store to Join Proposed Mixed-Use Project

Frys Food Store,downtown phoenix,new,cityscapeFry’s Food Stores and RED Development today announced the popular grocer will open downtown Phoenix’s first full-service grocery store. Fry’s preferred location to build the new 55,000 square-foot grocery store would be on the surface parking lot bordered between Washington Street and Jefferson Avenue, located between CityScape Phoenix and Collier Center. The downtown grocer would be housed in a proposed mixed-use development that could include traditional and creative office space and residential uses.

With the recent resurgence of downtown Phoenix and neighboring districts plus the expansion of both ASU and UA downtown campuses, a grocery store has been long-coveted for this area of the city. New employers are opening up offices, including tech-focused companies such as Uber and several new residential buildings have been built to meet the demands of new employee growth, creating an even greater need for a grocer in downtown Phoenix.

“This just made it a lot easier to move to downtown Phoenix,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “A new full-service grocery store will be a catalyst for more residential and neighborhood growth downtown for years to come. With RED Development, Fry’s and Kroger, we are gaining trusted brands with a long track record of success in downtown urban markets.”

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The location of the pending development is adjacent to CityScape Phoenix on the Valley Metro Light Rail Line. Photo courtesy of RED Development.

“This has been over 10 years in the making,” said Council member Michael Nowakowski, whose district includes downtown. “As the member on the Council who has represented downtown the longest, I am excited to announce that we are finally bringing a grocery store to downtown Phoenix. I can’t wait to see this project break ground in my district.”

Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, chairman of the Phoenix City Council’s Downtown, Aviation and Redevelopment Subcommittee, added “A grocery store has been at the heart of creating a modern, urban, vibrant downtown, which is needed to help attract the top talent necessary for our economy to thrive. I am thrilled to join Fry’s and RED in announcing this incredible news.”

“As a former downtown resident, I know first-hand how difficult it can be without convenient access to a full-service grocery store,” said Vice Mayor Kate Gallego. “For residents who live and work downtown, especially those who rely on light rail and other public transportation, this store is exactly what we need.”

Councilwoman Thelda Williams has also worked on this issue for many years.

The new Fry’s Food Store would be conveniently located in the core of downtown Phoenix, in between major light rail access points and would also serve greater downtown Phoenix historic districts such as Garfield, Roosevelt, Grand Avenue, Warehouse, Eastlake Park and more.

“CityScape was just the beginning of the potential we see in downtown Phoenix,” said Mike Ebert, Managing Partner, RED Development. “RED Development is looking forward to continuing its planning efforts on this mixed-use project and bringing a Fry’s grocery store to this area is the next step in solidifying the stability of the downtown revitalization movement.”

RED Development and Fry’s Food Stores look forward to sharing more details in coming months as the project progresses.

About RED Development
A wholly integrated commercial real estate company, RED Development maximizes asset value and performance for its high-quality retail and mixed-use portfolio that comprises 34 properties totaling nearly 17 million square feet in 11 states. For over 20 years, RED has been a preferred partner for national retailers and investors. The company also works with third-party property owners seeking RED’s expertise in remerchandising and repositioning properties to improve profitability and appeal. A privately held company headquartered in Phoenix, with corporate offices in Dallas, TX, and Overland Park, KS, RED builds on its development capabilities as an active acquirer of existing properties. www.reddevelopment.com

About Fry’s Food Stores
Fry’s Food Stores is headquartered in Tolleson, Arizona. The company employs more than 18,000 Arizona residents. The 119 Fry’s Food Stores service more than three million customers each week. Fry’s has been serving Arizonans since 1960. In 2012, Fry’s was honored with the Arizona Fundraising Professionals “Outstanding Corporation” award for its community service and philanthropic efforts. The company also received “2013, 2014 and 2015 Top Company” awards. Fry’s is the only grocer in Arizona to receive Top Company honors. The company is hiring and looking for customer service stars.