Guest Blog: Adventures of Local AZ - Wrapping up Indie Week

To continue recapping on our Independents Week, please welcome this guest blog post from Kelsey Wong, one of the many Ambassadors of Local First Arizona (ALFA)!

Adventures of Local AZ - Wrapping up Indie Week by Kelsey Wong

What absolutely delights you about Arizona?

Is it the mighty mountains that embrace us? The unbreakable sunshine that shines brightly upon us? Or is the local gems, the little things and the growing community around us?

Though we are each delighted by something different, there is no better organization that supports and encourages local brilliance more than our very own Local First Arizona (LFA).

Founded and directed by local legend and business owner, Kimber Lanning and her rockstar team of Zona-lovers, LFA is currently the largest organization of its kind in the country with about 2000 business members. As a non-profit network of local, independently owned Arizona businesses and supporters, LFA facilitates sustainable economic development for success in supporting and energizing our community at large.

Approaching last week’s Independence day as more than just the fireworks, fun and day off work we all receive, LFA saw it as an opportunity to celebrate Local Businesses and Entrepreneurs in Arizona with their first “Independents Week” or “Indie Week”.

Connecting over 200 local businesses, LFA concocted the “Golden Ticket” a coupon that could be used and reused by shoppers, foodies and localvores alike from July 1-7th. The variety of businesses really ran the gamut, everything from Hula’s Modern Tiki bar to AZ Valley Compost to Lollypop Vintage Boutique. But Indie week meant far more than a discount on a product or service. It represented an opportunity to truly honor the courage, fearlessness and greatness of these local business owners who took a once-crazy thought turned dream and created something for themselves and for all of our community to enjoy.

As a localvore, foodie and shopper myself, I was off-the-wall excited not only to use this golden ticket to scoop up some goodies and munch at some of the yummiest places in the city but to share it with everyone and anyone I knew. Consider me a major LFA Advocate, I would ask people all week, “Did you know it’s indie week? Do you have a golden ticket for indie week? Have you heard about indie week?”

So where was I able to use my ticket you ask, well (and this is slightly embarrassing to admit) I used my ticket twice at Humble Pie, one of my favorite spots right down the street from my house in the Coronado District in Phoenix. At Humble Pie, I love the strawberry, gorgonzola salad (so much so I had it both nights), the goat cheese and potato pizza was also scrumptious. What I love most about Humble Pie is that it has the local pizza joint vibe without the “I’m at a pizza joint feel”. Humble Pie is the type of place that would be amazing for a first date or a nice evening out. The mood is set just right, with ambient lighting and genuine, personable employees. The people there remember you by name (and not just because you were there the day before) but because they actually care, so much so that we were even able to share a little birthday treat together.

Another midweek treat came from indie week participant and accounting whiz, Cristina Garza from Accounting Prose who brought our coworkers at Co+Hoots the most delicious cookies from local biz SmartCookie.

Towards the end of the week I also made my way to the much-loved Camelback quarter that is Frances Boutique, Smeeks, Halo and of course, Stinkweeds. What I love about this area is that it’s like it’s own cooperative community, all of the businesses support eachother. On Saturday’s they host Short Leash Saturdays where they partner with Short Leash Hot Dogs and have live music for everyone to gather. Frances has announced that they will be hosting more arts and crafting events like Crafeteria and Stinkweeds is hosting album releases/listening parties. I love to come here because I know that anything I buy here and the time I spend here is meaningful.

When I visit Frances I feel like I am on a treasure hunt except that everything is a treasure, each item has been chosen with intention to create the utmost delight and joy in each of us. Items like gratitude journals, local handmade cards and spoon rings. While I’m there I pick up an adorable string doll for a friend and key accessory for myself. Afterwards, I head into Stinkweeds for my first time. I’ve heard so much about this spot but hadn’t yet had the pleasure to experience it myself.

The best words to describe this place are wonder, music and magic. Why you say? When was the last time you sat in a record store, threw on some headphones and just sat to enjoy some new tunes? New tunes that were hand selected to be shared with you. At Stinkweeds, this musical nostalgia is ever present and I am in a state of astonishment, am I really taking the time for myself to enjoy this moment and these melodies? I can’t remember the last time I did something like this. I love music, I absolutely love the artistry of rhythm and rhyme and I am here, sitting, full of glee. In a world where our access to music is abundant, where the likes of Spotify, Pandora and iTunes are streaming in everyone’s ears, it is so refreshing to discover a place like Stinkweeds. Stinkweeds has stayed tried and true to the core and beauty of sound, to he reflection of the feelings expressed in each lyric, to the chords which were so gracefully and perfectly placed in symphony. Being there made me truly appreciate the collaboration of artists who are so incredibly talented and put this all together and so I picked up music by “Walk the Moon” and “Emelie Sande”.

When I think of Indie week as whole, it’s so much like the symphony that I experienced during my team at Stinkweeds. It was that celebration and support of the entrepreneurial spirit by the community and that courage for those independents, entrepreneurs and businessses to put their work out there and see if the audience likes it that created such a masterpiece.

Bright as one. Brilliant together.

Kelsey Wong
Lover of Life
Ambassador of Local First Arizona
Director of Co+Hoots Coworking