Burmeister Building offers promising entrepreneurial legacy
The Old Capitol Market’s retail blend
Updated as of Saturday, June 1, 2019 9:44 PM
Marcy Charley of Mesa stopped Tuesday morning at the Old Capitol Market in the historic Burmeister Building on East Gurley Street on her way north to Flagstaff.
She and a friend went inside to the Capitol Firehouse Coffee shop where she bought a $2.95 freshly baked bear claw pastry.
Charley and her friend didn’t stay long. Their travels awaited.
Yet the coffee shop in the unique downtown venue is a must detour whenever Charley is headed to northern Arizona. She admits she is a bear claw loyalist. She took it to go — no coffee.
On the way out the sliding glass doors, Charley said the unusual setting inside the open-style market is a draw as it’s a retail space unlike anywhere else.
“I like the design; it’s modern yet has a touch of industrial,” she said of the brick building erected in 1929 after a fire demolished the original, 1874 mercantile store of The Bashford & Burmeister Company.
Another Memorial Day weekend visitor, Darlene Mallette of Camp Verde, said she strolled inside the market — that sports an enormous wooden horse sculpture in the middle aisle — out of sheer “curiosity.”
“This is my first time here and I was curious to see what was going on,” Mallette said as she strolled through the Spice Traveler, the largest of the just sold market’s offerings that caters to eclectic food connoisseurs and anyone seeking an interesting, kitchen or home-style décor found nowhere else. Think bejeweled frog figurines in yoga poses and laugh-out-loud, politically incorrect cocktail napkins.
Other customers were taste testing specialty olive oils at Olive U Naturally or wandering through Art Squared, the crystal tea-lighted upper mezzanine art gallery with wares crafted by 21 local artists, including sculptor owner Corey Burk. Selections include metallic sculptures, glass blown jewelry, tie-dyed attire, wood art, photography, and floral watercolors.
On a sunny or gloomy day, the front window offers a splendid view of Prescott’s past and present.
Down the metal staircase or elevator, the roasted coffee and fresh made kombucha mix well with the tasty chocolates and candy sold by one of the newest market vendors, Pralines of Prescott. Coffee house tables welcome shoppers to sit and enjoy a beverage and a snack.
Even the olive oil shop tucked in the far east corner offers a couple club chairs for samplers. Clerks are glad to offer taste tests for customers to discover.
In March, Prescott entrepreneur John Reding purchased the multi-floor market space for $2.43 million from Cliff Petrovsky, a businessman he said he respects for the work and vision he had for this space.
“I give all the credit to Cliff. He did an amazing job,” said the two-decade Prescott resident. “Cliff calls this the best building in town, and he might be right. When I visit, I’m in love with it.”
The building’s next door neighbor, the Bashford Court Atrium mall, was sold last year to Craig Hannay, a Prescott boy-turned-Phoenix real estate investor for $4.9 million. An interior remodel is now underway.
Delighted with the space leased by an interesting mix of business owners — the first market tenant is the now internationally renowned Superstition Meadery, housed in the cozy, “speakeasy” style basement — Reding and his tenants are excited by the market’s prospects.
The now-vacant, former Plaza Ballroom on the top floor is soon to become a new restaurant, adding yet another attraction expected to increase “foot traffic.”
Though the dining and owner details are not yet ready for publication, Reding and his tenants, including Bill McCleary who owns or is in partnership with all the businesses on the main floor, are eager for what this will bring to what they all suggest is a very special retail venue.
Customers have long informed McCleary this market with its appearance and array of unique products bears a resemblance to the Chelsea Market in Manhattan or Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston.
For the Memorial weekend, McCleary wanted to find a draw with some intriguing features. So he set up a coffee bicycle he and his wife, Glenda, found in Shanghai. They sold coffee out of it over the weekend.
“To our knowledge it is the only one in the United States,” McCleary said.
Most often, McCleary said the declaration he hears is, “God, I’ve never seen anything like this.
“And frankly, neither have I.”
Reding appreciates he is now part of a frontier entrepreneurial legacy, one he expects will stand the test of time.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he concluded.
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.