Across all fields, this has been a year of constant transitioning — a daily dance with forces both actively malign and horrifically natural. Fortunately for Josh Sampson — founder of TheBigWonderful, Denver Bazaar, Yeah Baby and Neon Baby — the idea that large-scale feats can, and ultimately should be accomplished in the short term, has been integral to all his projects well before constant flexibility was a daily reality.
In early October, the beloved Market at Larimer Square reopened under the direction of Sampson’s Good Baby MGMT, incorporating a range of fresh and familiar purveyors and a visibly malleable approach. Never shy of ambition, Good Baby simultaneously reactivated the former Tom’s Urban, transforming the space into Garage Sale — a vintage clothing and record shop complete with to-go cocktails and Mexico City-style tacos. In the weeks that have followed, the team has been met with a landscape that has all the comfort of a rollercoaster with the brake line cut, with the increasing restrictions eventually resulting in this year’s second full closure of indoor dining.
Sampson and his team quickly cleared Farmers Market LSQ — as The Market has been affectionately redubbed — of the indoor seating and replaced the available space with additional local vendors. And while the system for curbside pickup is currently being completed, shopping reservations for both Farmers Market LSQ and Garage Sale have already been put in place, with a maximum of 50 masked customers allowed in per session.
All the involved parties clearly understand the gravity of updating such a venerated room, one that acted as a significant community hub for 37 years. “It kinda has a magical vibe,” grinned Sampson. The mystique is palpable. In less sophisticated hands, new blood could give the impression of being interlopers. Farmers Market LSQ instead feels respectful. And while the demographic appeal has indeed swung younger, the scene evokes one of generational blending rather than a hostile youth takeover.
The opening lineup — though it is apt to change — included Rebel Bread, Denver Bazaar, YA•YE Organics, Hinman’s Bakery, Lala’s Bakery, The Wine Room, Farm to Truck, LittleJohn Produce Box Project and Pato’s Street Tacos. “Good Baby was created as a placemaking company,” said Sampson. “I build fertile soil for everyone else.” Garage Sale’s over 20 vendors continue that tradition, each one bringing an exacting eye to their cultivated thrifting.
Part of Good Baby’s flexibility has played out in the skillful and ongoing integration with online operations. Sampson hopes that the involved businesses will be able to shine, even if that success is disembodied from the hallowed space. Denver Bazaar Online, which launched earlier in the summer, will now have pickups available from the downtown location. YA•YE Organics — which also recently launched its own meal delivery service — initially set up shop as one of the central tenents of the multi-use deli counter.
Founder Krissy Ostermiller says 2021 will likely see YA•YE’s continued involvement with Farmers Market, though she feels it may come more in the form of simply having products on the shelves rather than acting as a full-fledged installation. Despite having a connection to the place — Ostermiller got her wedding cake from the original Lala’s — the clean eating advocate says she’s excited to use the coming months to continue to develop the meal packages. “YA•YE as a whole is an educative company. If you eat food as medicine now, you won’t have to eat medicine as your food,” smiled Ostermiller.
The contained scramble exhibited by Sampson and his cohorts speaks to an ironclad tenacity that has been quickly adopted by the industry at large — a brand new push for each one in a series of interminable setbacks. “It’s not necessarily that retail is dead, it just has to be rethought. Garage Sale is that void. Not only that, it’s an evolution,” said Sampson. “We’re back to the future of retail again,” he laughed.
The Farmer’s Market LSQ is located at 1445 Larimer St., Denver. It will be open each day this weekend from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Updates regarding the schedule going forward will be made available on its website.
Garage Sale is located at 1460 Larimer St., Denver. It will be open each day this weekend from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Updates regarding the schedule going forward will be made available on its website.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter except where noted.