Seven Businesses on Our Mill Avenue Wish List

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In celebration of the opening of Betty Alatorre's gourmet Mexican popsicle shop, Paletas Betty, on Mill Avenue, our foodie friends at Chow Bella did some big dreaming. 

 And we totally agree; Tempe's main drag could definitely use all of the droolworthy stops suggested on Chow Bella's Mill Avenue Wishlist. But we also know that the Tempe avenue is thirsty for a few great art and culture stops. We're not talking chains or pie-in-the-sky concepts (we'll save that list for later); instead, we'd love to see a few of our favorite local businesses jump the town lake, avoid the alligators, and set up shop. 

Here's what's on our Mill Avenue wishlist:

1. Red Hot Robot
Mill Avenue's in the front yard of one of the largest universities in the country that has more than a few creative and geeky students in attendance -- a perfect opportunity for the local gift and collectible shop on 16th Street in Phoenix.



​We love RHR for its cool selection of locally designed cards and funky toys, as well as custom munnies, dunnies, and every DIY vinyl toy in between. And we think the hip crowd in Tempe will, too.  

2. Revolver Records
The Tempe Ave is also in need of another kind of vinyl. Revolver Records is a Downtown hotspot for vintage records and new-releases as well a kickass collection of vendors during artwalks on First Fridays. Now if we could send a little more of that energy (and music) to the east side ...

3. Sidebar
Sure, Mill Avenue has Z-Tejas and Canteen, but they've got nothing on Sidebar's margarita. The bar on Seventh Avenue in Phoenix is ultra-cool, throws great happy hour events and has rotating shows by local artists.

The Night Gallery

4. Night Gallery
The Night Gallery's one of our favorite local showcases of student artwork. Every month, the experimental space gives the public an opportunity to see the latest from students in the music, dance, visual arts, theater and film programs. The downside? It's buried in the often-avoided Tempe Marketplace. Get those students some prime-time exposure and bring the art (back) to Mill Avenue. 

photo by Ryan Wolf

5. FilmBar
There's no shortage of alcohol on the college-kid street, but there's plenty of space for independent cinema. MADCAP's closed for the summer due to a busted a/c system (no word on when it's reopening) and Harkins Valley Art could use a nearby alternative ... with better popcorn. 

6. Zinnias
Michael Todd's 10,000 sq foot space in Phoenix is a heaven for vintage treasures -- and a place in which we could escape from the heat (or from class) and spend an afternoon perusing the shelves. 

7. Lost Leaf
Yeah, we know. All Mill Avenue needs is "another bar." But Lost Leaf is different. It caters to the more relaxed (read: not fraternity) crowd and specializes in craft beer and wine. No keg stands or funnels, just great drinks, cool artwork and great live music ... all of which we'd take over a $3 Long Island in a plastic cup on a Friday night. 

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Rusted Halo
Rusted Halo

Red Hot Robot just moved to 16th and no longer does the custom designer vinyl shows. If you want the figures, Wet Paint(as mentioned), Urban Outfitters, and even Zia Records sells them. Victor pretty much nailed this right on the head. Mill is great if you wanna go bar hoping without having to drive from bar to bar, grab some overpriced pizza, and get some $100 hipster jeans. Mill ave is dead in my mind and everybody knows Main Street in Mesa is where it's at and still quite close to ASU and soon with the light rail running right down Main Street it'll be a snap for the college types to come hang out. I think the focus needs to be on growing Main Street and getting some of the culture that's left on Mill over there.


I realize that this is a wishlist, but I can't really get behind it because it wouldnt work in real life and alternatives to all those businesses are within walking distance of Mill.

Wet Paint is right on Ash Avenue, next to Cartel and sells Dunnys, custom art books and designer vinyl, which is right next to Ash Avenue which also sells cool indie art books and figures as well.

If there was any money in a bookstore, then by now a Changing Hands or Bookmans wouldve taken up the lease of the defunct Borders right there across from The Fixx and Mellow Mushroom.

Eastside Records existed for a many a year right on Ash, right off Mill with indie records and vinyl and even then Zia Records Tempe is on Maple with national acts like LMFAO, Tegan and Sara, William Fitzsimmons, Blitzen Trapper and more doing free in-stores and they have a big big vinyl section.

MADCAP's new "season" of events and programming starts the week before last in October; the fact that MADCAP and Valley Art dont draw movie fans to Mill just says the demo isn't there. If Valley Art cant get people in the door with its huge marquee what hope would FilmBar have with the tons of nightclubs there every night eroding its movie with a bar gimmick. Filmbar works in its location b/c with that gimmick its a draw in downtown, next to Canteen Modern Tequila, Mill Ave Cue Club, Crave, etc. it would die a quick death.

Mill's big problem is its been gentrified beyond belief. the area is shaped by the fact that there's no real chance for an indie business to thrive there because it has a culture of Urban Outfitters surrounded by bar, surrounded by bar surrounded by nothing. The indie boho neighborhood you want for Mill exists in the Maple and Ash neighborhood right off Mill. If you want indie films, visit FilmBar or The Royale and check out the rare off film that Valley shows thats an indie goldmine, like Hesher a few weeks back and Bellflower this Friday.

Downtown has businesses that would work there b/c of teh character of its neighborhood but not elsewhere, the area these businesses are in supports their endeavors. Mill supports getting drunk and buying overpriced faux hipster clothing while you get a big slice of halfassed street pizza.


couldn't agree more! mix in revolver and lost leafs taste of live music and this may be a legit avenue again.

John Romeo Alpha
John Romeo Alpha

Changing Hands Bookstore! Maybe in a smaller space than their current store, perhaps with a basement area.


 Yea, because Mesa's Main street is so close and Mesa is the new cool city hahahahah


There already is a great bookstore on Mill: Old Town Books. And besides, we all know that if Changing Hands were to expand, it needs to get a location in DT Phoenix! :)

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