I’m learning more and more about the circumstances surrounding the closing of the indoor Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. While we could debate ad nauseum about the factors that led to the closing of the indoor market or point fingers at various individuals and groups, the reality is that the indoor Urban Grocery is closing at the end of business on Saturday 12 May.
In summary, passion and volunteerism alone do not make a sustainable business model; one has to pay the bills. While I’m not at liberty to say the extent of what I know and name my sources, the financial situation of the indoor Urban Grocery made it inevitable that it was going to close. Unfortunately, no amount of community donations could have possibly sustained the indoor market with how it was operated.
What we in the downtown Phoenix community need to do is work with organizations like Local First Arizona and others to find a local business partner to operate a downtown Phoenix grocery store. With the absence of the indoor Urban Grocery, downtown Phoenix has become a food desert, something that is fundamentally incompatible with an urban environment. I’m dreaming here, obviously, but this would be a tremendous opportunity for a group like Bashas’/AJ’s or La Grande Orange to step in. For either group, this would be a perfect entrée to downtown Phoenix.
We have established that the indoor Urban Grocery is a tremendous resource for the downtown Phoenix community. Although this isn’t a perfect metric, at the time of this writing, the “Save Downtown Phoenix Public Market” Facebook page has 566 likes. There have been polls and surveys done about the Urban Grocery. But again, a place needs to be operated effectively and have sound financial footing to run.
While this might sound a bit harsh, I believe that we need to move on from lamenting that the indoor Urban Grocery is closing to finding ways to write the next chapter in the life of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. If there’s one thing that we in downtown Phoenix are good at, it’s rallying around a common cause. Let’s do that again and show our community our determination and our resolve.
I’m willing to help advance this conversation as best as I can.