Food News

Five Points Bodega Melody Market Opens February 11

Melody Market is opening in Five Points Feb. 11
Melody Market is opening in Five Points Feb. 11 Teague Bohlen
Every cool neighborhood needs a bodega — that place where you can run to get something last-minute, pick up the one ingredient you thought was in your pantry, or just pop in for a bag of beef jerky, roll of SweeTarts, a soda, a burrito or some fresh bread. Whatever you need. That's the purpose of those little shops that serve the local population of a collection of city blocks. And that's the reason Melody Market, at 2590 Washington Street, is opening its doors on Friday, February 11. One of them, anyway.

Five Points is a part of Denver that's been growing in recent years, but the Downing Supermarket, Five Points Market and the Champa Store have all closed in the last few years, despite the burgeoning population. "There was a need for access to food, first and foremost," says Melody Market owner LaSheita Sayer. "We've recently gone from 35 people living on Welton Street to 800. With all the new apartment buildings, it's an amazing influx. What we didn't have yet was easy access to food."

Sayer is in a great position to know the numbers. She's not only the entrepreneur responsible for the new shop on Welton — positioned conveniently right next door to the very popular, decade-old Coffee at the Point — she's also vice president of the Five Points Business Improvement District, and has run her public relations firm, the ZoZo Group, out of the very storefront in which Melody Market will open. She tested the market with a GoFundMe campaign that generated a lot of interest in the idea, and that was enough for Sayer to bring her vision to reality.
click to enlarge TEAGUE BOHLEN
Teague Bohlen
The store was originally scheduled to open in late 2021, but getting the right permits for some sections — especially the fresh produce — took longer than anticipated. Sayer organized a training day on February 5, in order to test her systems and give her employees some experience in how the store will run. There was some product on the shelves, much of it local, including bottled green chile and salsa, and soups from the Women's Bean Project.

And there's a lot more coming, including locally sourced fruits and veggies, and baked goods provided by a Denver purveyor. The doors will open on Friday at 10 a.m., and the shelves will continue to be stocked throughout the weekend, Sayer says.

"The beauty of running your own business is that you get to make some personal decisions about how it's run," Sayer adds. "I'm passionate about preserving the history and story of Five Points, of some really amazing African-Americans. I really feel like I'm standing on their shoulders."
click to enlarge Melody Market owner LaSheita Sayer. - KRISTIN PAZULSKI
Melody Market owner LaSheita Sayer.
Kristin Pazulski
Much of the Welton Street corridor is marked with signs and photos and markers of the deep history of the African-American experience in that area. "I want the store to carry on that story, the plaques and the images of the business owners, and the opportunity for success in a community despite all the challenges they were facing."

To that end, Melody Market very intentionally features iconography of many of the twentieth century's most important Black personalities, whether they're authors or artists or musicians or athletes. "They made it so when we got to the civil rights movement," Sayer explains, "we could demonstrate our participation in American history."

Sayer believes that this spot in Denver's Five Points neighborhood is perfect for a store like Melody Market. "I can't imagine any other place where we could do this and it would make sense," she says. "We're in a culturally designated community. People will be able to get the things they need from within their own neighborhood. There's such value to that. And then to be able to walk into a store and hear Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington? You can't beat that."

Melody Market is located at 2590 Washington Street and opens Friday, February 11, at 10 a.m. For more information, visit the Melody Market website or Facebook page.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen