On the northeast corner of Main Street and Stapley Drive in Mesa, a Mervyn's department store took a bankruptcy dive and re-emerged this morning as POOL Together, a self-described collaborative marketplace for small businesses, artisans and craftspeople.
The $3 million brainchild of a team in California celebrated its soft opening at 10 a.m.. While about half of the 100 potential vendors have already signed a lease, only a fraction were functioning as of the opening. The large, air-conditioned warehouse was sprinkled with partitioned booths selling home décor items, flowers -- even Ed Hardy knock-offs (this is still Mesa, bedazzled trucker hats and all).
While the venue can easily be described as a sweeter version of Swapmart in suburbia, you won't find any bargain basement toiletries, hunting knives or head shop paraphernalia. Instead, the POOL team screens applicants to ensure their chances of success in the Mesa community.
Numerous stalls have yet to be occupied, but certain vendors have personalized their businesses with colorful splashes of paint, accessories and branding. In addition to retail and food stalls in the works, there are nooks with comfy couches to relax upon or a bistro area with bright yellow umbrella-bedecked tables.
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Vendors include (but are not limited to) My Daddy's Shirt, which focuses on "up-cycling" adult clothing into fashionable children's wear and Re-Generation, which also features whimsical children's clothing.
Krize Bistro is the only food vendor operating within POOL currently, though POOL spokespeople emphasized there are more foodie joints in the works.
Tip: If you plan to check out POOL, and have an empty stomach upon arrival, there's upscale food truck and shaved ice vendor set up outside to help deliver temporary eats to customers while they vendors settle into their new digs.
POOL also promises to host theatre productions, musical acts and a seasonal farmers' market in the coming weeks and months.
POOL is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays at 1240 E. Main St. in Mesa.