For those not familiar with our story, Stanley Marketplace started as a quest of three neighbors to open a beer garden. We wanted an independent place where friends and families could comfortably hang out. We knew nothing about running a restaurant, and even less about developing a marketplace, but we knew that something was missing in our community: a gathering place.
From our vantage point, Stapleton and the surrounding neighborhoods were great places to live. The schools and parks were top-notch, everyone knew their neighbors, but there were too few independent, local, and compelling businesses to support.
We shared our beer garden concept with Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN) in the summer of 2013, and in October of that year we presented at a SUN meeting to an enthusiastic audience. Fortunately for us, the Front Porch was in attendance. Carol and Steve shared our concept with their readers, one of whom worked in the development office at the City of Aurora. The next day she went to her coworkers saying: “Let’s go get this project.” That is how our community marketplace was born.
Now, just seven years later, Stanley feels like it’s been here for ages, and in Stapleton, Park Hill, Lowry, East Colfax and NW Aurora we’re surrounded by great local businesses. We’ve got top-notch dining options including ones from renowned chefs Troy Guard and Elise Wiggins in Eastbridge. We’ve got locally-owned fitness establishments, bakeries and boutiques, including new businesses that have opened just this year. Many of us who’ve lived here for a decade or more used to dream of what NE Denver and NW Aurora have now become.
If we want our neighborhoods to remain places where locally-owned businesses exist and thrive, then it is absolutely vital that our residents wrap their arms around our independent business community and support them in the weeks and months ahead. Our small businesses are facing an existential threat. The challenges before us cannot be understated: months of lost revenue, constant uncertainty and stress, and few models for a successful path forward. Restaurants are essentially starting over; retailers are sitting on inventory that can’t be sold; and service providers have to figure out how to continue businesses that rely on close contact. With so many local small businesses in jeopardy, the very fabric of our community is at risk of going away.
We can’t let that happen. NE Denver and NW Aurora made Stanley and so many other local small businesses possible; now we need to make sure they remain. Please make a conscientious decision to shop, dine, work, and work out at locally- and independently-owned places in our neighborhood every time you can. We need our restaurants, our retailers, our gyms and our other services. We need our community paper. But none of them can survive without your consistent support.