"This isn't the 'cool' side of Coronado," Chelsea Nesbit laughs. "I moved here from the central valley in California, and I soon learned that a lot of people didn't consider my neighborhood, on this side of McDowell, part of their neighborhood, because it isn't historic Coronado. I saw opportunity here, and after living in farmland, I saw a big gap here when it came to the availability of good, fresh, truly organic stuff."
On her way home one day, she spotted a new "for lease" sign in a shop window on McDowell Road. "I saw this space for lease, and just knew I had to have it. I still wasn't totally sure what I was going to do with it, but I just knew I wanted to create something there."
Located at 1736 East McDowell Road, next to the Aqua Night Club, the space is now home to the McDowell Market, which is part of the newly formed Miracle Mile Merchant's Association, a collection of business owners working toward the revitalization of Phoenix's historic Miracle Mile.
In addition to selling convenience items, dry goods, and spices, Chelsea's small, organic grocery shop offers local, organic produce and bulk goods for online preorder and in-store pickup each week. Organic, grass-fed meats, free-range and organic chicken, and eggs will soon be offered as well on a monthly basis.
"People are always talking about buying local and supporting local; well, here we are," Chelsea says. "We want to become part of our community, which is why we host events, like Spanish and English classes at our bilingual bookshop, and we plan to do more classes, music events, and other happenings to make this a place for people from the neighborhood to gather."
Though the market and bookshop have been open for a couple of months, the home decor and coffee shops are new additions. At Galeana 39, Curtis Parhams sells a well-curated collection of items from jewelry and throw pillows to hand-poured soy candles. At Shrug's Coffee, owner Mercedes Murrieta sources her beans from two local roasters, Xanadu and Espressions, and gives back to the community through fundraising projects to benefit local school music and art programs. She also makes a really, really good latte.
The market is a little hard to find if you don't know what you are looking for, as signage out front is sparse. The Aqua Night Club is a good landmark, and the market has a large parking lot just behind the store and club. To get inside from the back lot, you have to read for clues. A small sign gives instructions for opening the sliding barn door, which, at first glance, makes it look like the shop is closed.
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Once inside, you'll feel a million miles away from the grit of McDowell Road. The market is open and bright, with areas to sit and read over a cappuccino. The unique offerings are fun to browse, and the shop owners are friendly and helpful without being overbearing. It is comfortable, with an intimate, neighborhood feel that is modern and hip, without a hint of pretension.
Their side of McDowell may not be the "cool side" yet, but with fresh, thoughtful, and most importantly, useful, shops and businesses like McDowell Market moving in, it certainly is moving in that direction.
The coffee shop opens at 7 a.m. and the market currently operates Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Order fresh, organic produce, bulk items, and free-range meats via the buying club, see upcoming events, and learn more about the market by visiting the McDowell Market website or Facebook page.