Friday, April 29, 2011

Phoenix Market

The storefront of Phoenix Market, which is open daily (photo by Jonathan Delarosa, 2011)

A food truck pokes fun at Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Food trucks come on Wednesdays and Saturdays (photo by Jonathan Delarosa).
3rd St. and Washington, Phoenix

             Located just off of the light rail at 3rd St. and Washington right next to the recently built ASU Downtown Campus, we come across the Phoenix Market. This place seems to be an unassuming marketplace where food from local places is sold. Normally, only the small (albeit well-lit) building that seems niche sells goods 6 days per week from local vendors.  However, on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, the real magic of this market comes to life. Vendors from all over Arizona converge in the Phoenix area to sell their own merchandise.
             The Phoenix Market started off in February 2005 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that didn’t have an actual building. It was an open air market that took place in a parking lot that’s currently outside of the new “urban” Phoenix Public Market. This open-air market is still open every Wednesday Evening and Saturday morning. The goals of this nonprofit are simple: to bring fresh food to an underserved area, to foster a sense of community in the neighborhood, and to give these people who sell these goods the opportunity to live off of what they sell. They accept just about every payment option under the sun, from more common ways of payment like credit/debit cards and cash to anything provided in welfare programs, like WIC, Food stamps, and other cash value vouchers.
A place like this is important because it’s the first step in tearing down the racial lines that divide Phoenix. Since it’s in the Evans-Churchill neighborhood, it serves a tattered economy and a neighborhood that has close to 30% of its residents in poverty with healthy food that’s at a very inexpensive price. It’s also close to downtown and close to the light rail, so its location makes it accessible for anyone who wants to go to be able to go. Furthermore, the events held at the Market, like the Wine Tasting (and the Open Air Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, of course), help foster community interaction.  This is important in order for the market to survive. A study done in Rural Sociology on social learning and innovation in farmers’ markets show that by viewing the markets in a social embeddedness perspective (i.e., by viewing the markets in a way that shows the importance of social networking), the farmers’ market is absolutely important in innovation and for providing for a self-sustaining community. When a community has to rely off of each other, then dividing lines come down in favor of the greater economic good. The results of people doing this are shown in a study in the Journal of Agricultural Economics. In it, the researchers show that people who frequently shop at a farmers’ market not only shop more often than those who shop in supermarkets, but 83% shop for either the higher quality food or to sustain their community, which further shows the results in the aforementioned Rural Sociology study.
Starting in October of 2010, a new project called Food Truck Fridays began that allows food truck owners to bring their truck and serve food to anyone who feels like coming to buy some. This helps even more in the fostering of communication between anyone who comes by the market. Programs like these help tear down the dividing lines and racial borders in the city because anyone can talk to everyone. This is what Lipsitz suggested in his article about the role of developers in ending this racialization of space. The market becomes more than just a place to buy freshly grown food at this point. In a College Times article, the author states that for every $100 spent in a farmers’ market, $42 stays in Arizona.
 - Jonathan Delarosa and Logan Garman
Vashisht, Kanupriya. "Ongoing: Phoenix Public Market." 1 Mar. 2006. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. <>.
Phoenix Public Market. "About « Phoenix Public Market | Urban Grocery and Wine Bar." Community Food Connections. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. <>.
Lipsitz, “The Racialization of Space and the Spatialization of Race”, p. 20
Vega, Janice. "Shift in Thinking Sees Popularity of Farmers Markets Grow." College Times. College Times, 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. <>.
Hinrichs, C. C., Gilbert W. Gillespie, and Gail W. Feenstra. "Social Learning and Innovation at Retail Farmers' Markets." Rural Sociology (2004): 1272-278. EBSCOHost, 1 Mar. 2004. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.

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