Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The Gila Valley Made trio, from left, Tricia Garrett of Prickly Pear Blossoms, Taylor Ludwig of Lynn Meadows Home, and Torey Cranford of Cakes with TLC are busy renovating – with the help of their husbands – a huge building in Downtown Safford to serve as the businesses new location.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A cooperative born out of necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic has grown from the backyard of one of the principles to now be housed in one of the largest buildings in Downtown Safford.
Gila Valley Made, a cooperative of currently 55 separate businesses, is set to have its new opening at its Downtown Safford location at 526 W. Main Street at the intersection of Main Street and 6th Avenue on Friday, May 28. After then, the business is expected to be open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to start. Check for operation times by visiting the Facebook page for Gila Valley Made.
One year ago today, Tricia Garrett with Prickly Pear Blossoms, Torey Cranford with Cakes with TLC, and Taylor Ludwig with Lynn Meadows Home gathered together in Garrett’s backyard to sell their wares.
“When we originally started all of (Cranford’s) cakes got canceled for weddings because of COVID,” Garrett said. “My two stores that I sell out of town shut down (and) everything Taylor was doing shut down. So, all of a sudden, there’s all these small businesses that are non-essential, so they all got shut down.”
“Last year with COVID there weren’t any events,” Cranford said. “Most of our businesses are vendors who set up at events, so they had no place to sell their items.”
After the successful pop-up backyard sale, the women started to have sales events on their Facebook page. After the summer, the group then got together to open Gila Valley Made at its Thatcher location in September 2020 with the thought of keeping it open through the holidays. Businesses continued, however, and the cooperative remained open until their building was sold, prompting the move to Downtown Safford.
The Gila Valley Made trio – Cranford, Ludwig, and Garrett – along with help from their husbands are in the process of transforming the roughly 3,000-square-foot shell of the building into a spot worthy of featuring the various, mostly home-based businesses.
Currently, the group has 55 vendors who will have a space to show their wares. Items are taken on consignment, with a portion of the sales going toward paying for the building’s rent and utilities. The group is accepting more vendors, and those interested should send a direct message to them on the Gila Valley Made Facebook page.
To help with the transition costs of renovating the building and starting the business in Safford, the group is selling personalized wood tiles that will be placed on columns in the new store. The tiles are made by Garrett and Ludwig and come in four different sizes. Visit the Gila Valley Made Facebook page to order your tile today.
While the main focus is retail, the women said the communal gathering of the various vendors and community members is important in itself and that it is a place where ideas are shared freely and people can communicate with each other on a personal level. Additionally, the group plants to have space available in the rear of the building to serve as a spot where business leaders and community members can hold classes to teach those interested in crafts and more.