ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After more than a year, Little Bear Coffee Co., has opened its second location in the heart of Nob Hill. And customers can pick up a lot more than a cup of joe at the new location.
The coffee shop, which opened its doors to the public last weekend, anchors a 7,000-square-foot retail center, in the former Disco building at 3123 Central Ave NE. Tenants at Little Bear’s retail collective will include a bookstore, plant shop and a mix of other businesses.
Coffee shop manager Sarah Gonzales said the vision is to create a collaborative space that acts as a one-stop shop for local wares.
“I think everyone’s going in open-handed and ready to work together,” Gonzales said.
Little Bear opened its first location in uptown Albuquerque, but co-founder Isaac Fox said he and his brother, Jacob, have wanted to be in Nob Hill since their time at the University of New Mexico. When the building, which housed Disco Display House for years before closing, became available, Fox said he and his brother didn’t hesitate.
“To us, it’s always just been the dream to be a part of this community and neighborhood,” Fox said.
Little Bear’s original location includes merchandise from other local businesses for sale, but the new spot takes the concept further. Little Bear will be accompanied by more than a dozen local businesses, ranging from small card kiosks to a bookstore. Gonzales said the model, which features a mix of businesses with different focuses, is to foster collaboration between unexpected sources, while creating a platform that can help incubate local small businesses.
One such business is Harvest Moon Books. The small bookstore is the brainchild of local writer Robin Babb, who said she’s wanted to open a bookstore for a while, and saw this as an ideal opportunity.
“I know first-hand the ability of books to change lives,” she said.
She intends to start small, and the store will open with around 350 books for sale, ranging from cookbooks to works by indigenous authors. The space will also include a small, walk-in greenhouse with dozens of plants for sale.
While Babb half-jokingly called it “insane” to start a local bookstore in an increasingly digital world, she’s optimistic about the future of print.
“I’m biased, but I think print media is having a bit of a resurgence,” Babb said. “I think people are really interested in being able to hold things in their hands again.”
While it has been a tumultuous couple of years for Nob Hill, Fox and Gonzales said they’re hopeful that the collective’s focus on small, independent businesses can help Nob Hill return to its roots.
“We’re pumped to be part of helping Nob Hill get back on its feet a little bit,” Fox said.