By Bella Zafer
If you haven’t heard, Edge Alley is the new spot for food, coffee, shopping, and studying. Read to hear what current and graduated turkeys have to say about Edge Alley’s and its influential role in the up-and-coming Medical District.
The sign on the front door of Edge Alley, a new restaurant and community space in the Edge District, says that it brings together "retail, coffee, food, and community.” Not only is Edge Alley a great place to study, but the new local coffee shop and gathering place also promises a perfect biscuit sandwich, a fresh cup of artisan coffee, and distinctive local retail.
Edge Alley is an eclectic, one-of-a-kind, ‘coffee shop meets shopping center’ establishment. Upon entering Edge Alley, I noticed the open space and great light exposure that immediately create a productive and positive space for studying. Kate Stukenborg (10) says, “it’s perfect because it’s bright, pretty quiet, and I can spread everything out.”
A notable feature of Edge Alley is the long, shared table in the middle of the room that fosters a friendly and connected environment. Both college and high school students can often be seen studying at this community table. In addition, one of the long coffee bars leads up to a wall made of two full-sized garage doors turned into windows. When the weather is particularly nice, these windows are open so that small families, couples young and old, and groups of friends who visit Edge Alley can enjoy some fresh air.
Edge Alley is also distinguished by its four micro-retail shops including a bath and body shop, a vintage clothing shop, and a local interior design shop. The fourth shop is occupied by a monthly rotating pop-up shop, which allows for a flow of new and exciting local businesses to support.
Carmen Saab (‘15) spent a portion of her summer working at the interior design shop, Wilkinson's Designer Goods, along with her sister Lily Saab (‘17). Carmen strongly recommends visiting Edge Alley because “it’s so open and definitely unique.”
Noah, a blogger for Choose 901, a Memphis-oriented blog, says in a recent article titled, Now Open: Edge Alley, that the micro-retail spaces make Edge Alley its "own community development engine." Starting under a one-year lease, these shops are operating with the goal of one day becoming full-sized stores in the surrounding area in the Edge District and the Medical District.
Developments of the Edge District, situated right between the core of downtown Memphis and the Medical District, give the Medical District the momentum to become the next Overton Square. Edge Alley enthusiast, Lily Smith (11) says, “I have grown up in Midtown and seen the development of the area. It’s really cool to see not only the progress made in the Midtown/Downtown area, but also how they are being connected.”
Ellory Ammons (‘12), Development Coordinator of the Programs and Planning Department of the Downtown Memphis Commission, is one of the many excited Memphians looking forward to the revamping of the area. Ammons stresses how targeted the Medical District area is for development, saying “[the area has] so many screaming opportunities.” Since it is nestled between the core of Downtown and Midtown, it makes “a great cross sector.”
She further explains that the goal in developing this area is to bring people together from all over the city, encouraging the idea that, as Memphians, “we are the same community. This is one neighborhood.”
The area has been lucky to undergo what is known as smart growth: when developments such as Edge Alley attract people to an area and bring attention to the businesses in that area. Places of smart growth similar to Edge Alley include Memphis favorites such as City and State, High Cotton Brewing Company, and Freewheel, the Memphis bike tour company, located across the street from Edge Alley.
As we get back into our school year groove, we encourage you to consider checking out Edge Alley. The retail centers are open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Coffee and food are served Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you do stop by, you are guaranteed great coffee, commerce, conversation, and most importantly, the opportunity to take part in the Memphis journey towards a more developed, diverse, successful, and connected city.