Eclectic Monkey Emporium on Main Street in Mesa is keeping its name but changing just about everything else. Mum's the word right now, but big things are in store for the business, which is as interesting as its name suggests. Owner Glenn Blackmore plans to transform the Emporium into a speakeasy/venue/artists studio/vintage shop.
The Monkey closed on May 27 and posted a message on Facebook that explained what's going on. Essentially, the owner will be changing the format of the store to become a place where people can see speakers, performers, and shop once a month.
The Monkey is intended to be a place to hang out, eat and drink, occasionally shop, build things, and exchange ideas. Blackmore says he wants to create "a place where you should walk away and say, 'Wow, that was a great night.'"
Blackmore says that part of the space would be turned into a private club at night, but not a nightclub. The theme of the club will be that of a speakeasy aesthetically and in practice. Servers will even dress like bruisers to add to the vibe.
The club will be a space for discussions and performances that are inspired by TED Talks and NPR's Snap Judgment podcasts, in which people tell stories to the backdrop of music provided by a five-piece band.
Blackmore says musicians will vary from well-known artists who might drop in on tour to local artists.
LollyPOP Vintage, who previously supplied Eclectic Monkey with some of its vintage clothing and accessories will hold a four-day sale on the first weekend every month starting in August. LollyPOP recently closed up shop on Seventh Avenue, but its Etsy shop is still alive and well.
The idea behind the monthly sales is to allow Phoenicians a sneak preview of merchandise that will eventually go on to bigger markets in California like Los Angeles. The owner works with other stores in California where merchandise is sold for a bigger price tag than it would be in the Valley.
After the sales, Blackmore and his crew will work on creating "weird things" as they have always done. He says, "If you need a car built out of a fighter plane, we can fabricate it."
Blackmore is creating the new community space to add to the culture in Mesa. "There needs to be a cultural underground vibe on the East side that's not the Mesa Arts Center," he says. "They [Mesa Arts Center] do a great job," he adds, though he wants a more intimate place where guests can sit and have dinner with the performers.
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The folks at The Monkey do not plan to advertise their shows as spaces will be limited to 49 people. Those interested in attending events can sign up to be on an e-mail list at The Monkey, which is the only way to find out about upcoming events.
At each show guests can buy two more tickets for the next event in order to maintain a close-knight atmosphere. Blackmore says he has successfully employed similar ticket sales strategies at clubs he was involved with in San Francisco.
The space is still in the conceptual phases, so things are subject to change. Blackmore wants to maintain the element of surprise.