When considering the best cities in the country for start up businesses, Phoenix is not generally considered a top place to go. “It’s too hot, it’s too spread out, it’s too small,” are some of the more common complaints about the city in desert thats only harbor is an airport. But what many of the Phoenix naysayers have no idea about is downtown’s little oasis of DIY art galleries, concert venues, retail shops, restaurants and all other manner of locally owned store fronts in the Roosevelt arts district and the surrounding area.
“In the past few years we have seen Quizno’s close, Krispy Kreme close, and the Circle K blocked from expanding into a super Circle K complete with liquor store. But we have seen GreenHaus art gallery, Angels Trumpet Alehouse, Melt Ice Cream Cafe, and The Songbird Cafe open. We really have a local feel down here,” said Aaron Johnson owner of bookstore Lawn Gnome Publishing, 905 N. Fifth St.,which is located in the downtown DIY paradise.
To many this part of town may seem like just a haven for artists, hippie’s and bohemian types, but past the artsy veneer of the murals and gallery’s there is some of the most innovative business minds the Southwest has to offer. Like Johnson and his bookstore which is blossoming into a solid concert venue as well attracting nationally touring acts like rapper Sole and poet Saul Williams. While still offering a wide selection of books and zine’s both locally made and widely distributed.
Or Bodega 420, 420 S. Roosevelt St., which feature a chalkboard inside which customers can write down their suggestions for products which the store should carry. Once a product gets 10 tally marks next to it in agreeance Bodega begins carrying the product.The area also has some great startup restaurants and bars like The Welcome Diner, 924 E. Roosevelt St., which serves almost exclusively locally procured food and beverages. As well as the Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery, 914 N. Fifth St., which mixes great local art with fine craft beer all in a comfortable homey atmosphere. There is also JoBot Coffee, which besides a great place to get a cup of jo, also offers some of the tastiest crepe combinations one could ever find.
Roosevelt Row and the surrounding area is about so much more than their flagship event “First Friday.” Roosevelt is a place where art and innovation meet and it makes for one of the most fun areas to start and maintain a business in the entire country.