POOL Marketplace
Dre Ory's Toys Books and More owner moves his merchandise into his booth at the POOL Marketplace, Tuesday, July 27, 2010 in Mesa.

The POOL Together indoor market is closing after less than a year of operation in Mesa, leaving 29 merchants to scramble for new locations.

POOL had been seen as an innovative way to reuse one of the Valley’s roughly 300 empty big-box stores while serving as an incubator for budding entrepreneurs. Even the Wall Street Journal took notice.

But the concept unraveled by late summer in the midst of a slow economy, the hasty exit of a co-founder and mounting complaints from tenants that the owner wasn’t building up the concept.

Josh Krize operated a coffee shop in POOL until November, and he said he wasn’t surprised at the closing. Krize left after promises of new tenants, several restaurants, marketing, a grand opening and more were pushed back, scaled down or never materialized.

“They didn’t deliver what they were going to do,” Krize said. “The coffee shop is kind of like the therapist. Everybody came over and it was the same complaint.”

Krize said he and others became disillusioned after the departure of co-founder Skyler Hynes, whom he considered the project’s visionary. POOL had 53 merchants at its peak but Hynes said he was asked to leave in September, which triggered merchants to exit.

A key to POOL was having merchants who sold things shoppers wanted on a regular basis, Hynes said, while keeping out flea market-type shops. But the owners changed the standards and pulled back on investments, he said.

“The concept did not really get the opportunity to get to fruition,” Hynes said. “I hope the silver lining in this situation is that some of these businesses find homes in Mesa’s downtown or wherever.”

The Downtown Mesa Association has met with displaced merchants and is trying to match them with property owners and leasing agents, DMA Executive Director David Short said. Many business owners want to keep working in a shared space, Short said.

POOL will remain open through Feb. 5, with altered hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

California-based GRL Mesa Investments poured more than $2 million to renovate the former Mervyn’s building at the northeast corner of Main Street and Stapley Drive. The market’s online farewell notice didn’t give a reason for closing and an owner’s representative did not respond to a request for comment.

POOL leasing director Pam Paes said she got word Wednesday via e-mail, and had no prior warning. Several organizations and a shopping center owner have been eager to relocate merchants, she said.

“To my knowledge, nobody is going out of business,” Paes said.

contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or ggroff@evtrib.com

(10) comments

Poorman

Ho!Hum!,nothing new about this.

mymesa

"promises of new tenants, several restaurants, marketing, a grand opening and more were pushed back, scaled down or never materialized." sounds like the displaced merchant could fall into the same trap with the Downtown Mesa Association.

snipes

You have to applaud the owners for spending the money to re-develop the place. Sadly, there were early signs of trouble that led to its ultimate collapse. Hopefully they won't let the property fall into decay (a common problem elsewhere in Mesa). Good luck to the sellers at there new locations.

IBINAZ

Until this article, I had NEVER heard of this place. Think the merchants got dooped with the claim of marketing this concept since it was NOT promoted.

nybill38

predicted this a month ago when there was a story about the advertising and the owners not doing what they said they would do....the place was nothing but a scam

EmperorSmith

[sad] I live close to there.

VivaSB1070

Sorry, meant 'ARE not willing to go to that area.'

VivaSB1070

BAD choice of location. Most people with money to spend, and who care about their personal safety, will not willingly go to that area.

EmperorSmith

I went there once, it was sort of flee market but with permanent booths. I did not see a great selection, I do like the idea. I have a feeling the owner of the building is going to reinvent it.

Geepers

Too bad someone taking a risk to start up a business in this economy failed, but I don't think too many people will find this story to be much of a surprise.

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