A general store that sells new and used merchandise has returned to Main Street in downtown Mesa, but a neighboring store owner and a city official say it’s not the kind of business they envisioned for the area near the new arts center.
Prehab of Arizona’s General Store opened its doors at 18 W. Main St. to a small line of customers Tuesday morning.
A similar store operated at 119 W. Main St. for a few years in the 1980s before moving to 308 E. University Drive, Suite 6 in Mesa.
The new store is the second general store in the Valley, but will eventually replace the other Mesa location.
Prehab of Arizona is a nonprofit human-services agency that helps families with domestic violence, homelessness and youth residential programs.
Store proceeds benefit two Mesa shelters.
The general store offers everyday products such as books, clothes, toys, home furnishings and collectibles.
Other downtown retailers, serve niche markets such as musical instruments, typewriters or antiques.
"We bring something new and different to downtown," said Torrie Taj, director of development for Prehab of Arizona.
Taj said people have a negative perception of thrift stores, and some may have thought the store would cater to homeless people, but that’s not the case.
The store is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Tom Verploegen, executive director of Mesa Town Center Corp., said the general store is an incremental positive for the downtown area.
Mesa Town Center Corp. promotes, markets and manages the square-mile town center area, which runs from Country Club to Mesa drives and from University Drive to Broadway Road.
"They’re going to have an active, open use, which is a number of steps up from the warehousing use that it was," Verploegen said.
The General Store purchased nearly 8,000 square feet of space that was used by Saba’s Western Stores as a warehouse.
About 2,500 square feet is used for retail.
Verploegen said he was impressed with the level of renovations to the building.
He said the city is working on changing building codes to allow buildings to be subdivided into three or four boutique-type stores.
"We’d like to see, if the market dictates and it makes sense for the owner to subdivide, it get some unique, smaller specialty stores" Verploegen said.
Mike Milano, general manager of Milano Music in downtown Mesa, said, "It would have been nice to have a major name or major player with the arts center going in. Any store that’s open downtown is a good thing."
Prehab will also use the building for volunteer orientations, a donation drop-off and arts and crafts classes.
Taj said the store’s new location will help downtown Mesa because it brings in a variety of people — shoppers, volunteers, and people who donate.
A daily 15 percent senior citizen discount is expected to attract more shoppers.
"We were excited when we heard about the arts center," Taj said.
"We want to support the redevelopment of downtown."