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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.”

Miriam Dubinsky sells prints during an artisans’ fair at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, CO.

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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