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This Marketplace Is a Must-Visit in Colorado

Meet the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, where you can just about do it all: Drink, eat, exercise, shop, play and make a difference.

By Rebecca Treon on June 22, 2022

The Upper Deck at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, CO
From the Hip Photo/Visit Aurora

Stanley Marketplace, a neighborhood hub in Aurora that includes a food hall and market, is home to more than 50 independently owned Colorado businesses where residents love to eat, drink, shop, exercise, play, work and more.

Breathing new life into a former aviation center – named with a nod to hangar owner Bob Stanley, who invented ejection seats and was the first American to fly a jet – visitors can get sushi-grade knives at Element Knife, shop Scandinavian clothing at Activ and take a tumble at Bounce Gymnastics. But beyond its hip vibe, The Stanley has an important ethos at its core – one that’s printed right on the wall.

“The Stanifesto was written before we opened in 2016 and is a roadmap about more than just being in business, but about making a positive impact in the community,” says Ally Fredeen, general manager at Stanley Marketplace. “Everyone who works here or has a business here signs off on it. We have proven that you can operate while making a difference. We want everyone to believe in it and be in line with it, because we live it and breathe it every day.”

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Sense of Community

The Stanley hosts countless community gatherings at its event space, The Hangar, and is home to the Village Farms at Stanley, a social enterprise in partnership with a nearby nonprofit that helps immigrants and refugees. Another Stanley business, Gotham Greens, is a 50,000-square-foot greenhouse that has hired many immigrants and refugees, thanks to the partnership.

“They also have a summer camp that helps break down barriers, where kids from the Central Park neighborhood can be with kids whose families are immigrants or refugees. We are very family-friendly and want kids to feel like they have a place, too,” Fredeen says. “LuBird’s Light Playground just opened last year, and is an accessible playground for kids of all modalities, so children in wheelchairs can be on a swing, too.”

Families love MindCraft, a techy makerspace, and Tattered Cover Kids, a youth-centric outpost of Denver’s oldest independent bookseller. The Stanley houses VR Social, a virtual reality arcade, and Neighborhood Music & Theater, whose owner recently opened its second Stanley business, Factory Fashion, teaching kids and adults sewing and design.

Food is also a big deal at the Stanley – you can find Mexican street favorites, sushi, ramen, French chocolates and pastries, and barbecue, plus restaurants like Chook, founded by Adam Schlegel and James Beard award-winner Alex Seidel. And Chef Caroline Glover of Annette (scratch-totable and wood-fired fare) is a 2019 Food and Wine Best New Chef and a multiple finalist and semifinalist for James Beard awards.

“We’ve always stayed true to what makes Stanley what it is – it’s practically in our DNA,” Fredeen says. “No matter what businesses are added or how we expand, we stay true to our roots in giving back in some way.”

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