Missing the '80s? Try the totally awesome art and fashion at this new Grand Avenue boutique

·6 min read

Not many women would wear a green sequined dress as their wedding gown. Even fewer have an entire “Hook” themed wedding.

But that’s exactly how local artists Mallory Ruiz and John Moody — a mural artist who is also known as MDMN — celebrated their wedding. It was a day where bartenders became pirates, an officiant became Mr. Smee and pixie dust was edible. "Hook" actor Dante Basco even FaceTimed in to say congratulations.

The creativity didn’t stop there.

On Saturday, Nov. 20, the couple — Ruiz decked out in a glittery pink dress and Moody, dressed head to toe in vintage streetwear — opened up Eighty Seven, a 1980s-themed shop and art collective on Grand Avenue. The shop will not only sell vintage streetwear and retro knick-knacks, but also art supplies. It will also feature pieces from local artists' goods.

Customers gather outside during the grand opening of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.
Customers gather outside during the grand opening of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.

This is the couple's first major project since their move back to Phoenix in 2018 after 10 years in Los Angeles.

"We asked ourselves, 'what's next? what are we good at?' Moody said. "We're good at art, we're good at curating artists, we are good at art culture, and we're good at streetwear. So this is what we did."

What is Eighty Seven?

The shop is a mix of modern and retro. The name was chosen because they were born in 1987 — a special year for them, Ruiz said.

“Every time we hear a song, see a movie, we are like, 'what year was that made in? I bet it was 1987 because that's the coolest year ever right?' And then it clicked," Ruiz said.

The couple got the shop open in one month, after finding the listing on Craigslist in July, Ruiz said.

Mallory Ruiz assists Rich Cottle and his children, Wyatt and Colt, during the grand opening of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.
Mallory Ruiz assists Rich Cottle and his children, Wyatt and Colt, during the grand opening of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.

Soft neon pinks, sunshine yellows and deep turquoise blues cover this minimalist shop. To the right sits a wall racked with painted vintage VHS tapes, all painted by local artists in the community. That, said MDMN, is exactly what the shop is meant to be: A collective for creatives to share their work, a shop open for artists to sell their work.

While the shop seeps retro vibes — subtle glowing lights line the walls and a bright neon purple sign greets guests when they walk in — it’s a store that sells brand new eighties-style streetwear with the store’s brand, Eighty Seven, as well as professional art supplies. Illustrative paint markers, drawing books and spray paint are all items scattered within the store for the creatives.

Used VHS tapes sit on display and play on a small blue TV behind the register of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.
Used VHS tapes sit on display and play on a small blue TV behind the register of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.

There are also knick-knacks spread throughout the shop, like video game erasers, bright blue sunglasses, and Lisa Frank coloring books and notebooks.

“We wanted people to feel like when they walked into the store that they were somewhere else," Ruiz said, "and in a completely different period of time."

How they established themselves on the LA art scene

The year was 2009. Moody, a musician at the time, had just wrapped up his tour in Tempe. His first stop after the concert was a house party. Ruiz perused the house bar in a retro band t-shirt-made-dress and Ruiz walked in wearing a vintage Los Angeles Lakers t-shirt and skinny jeans.

“I just walked up to her and said, ‘Who are you?’ Moody said.

Eighty Seven owners, Mallory Ruiz and John Moody, pose for a photo at the grand opening of their new shop on Grand Avenue in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.
Eighty Seven owners, Mallory Ruiz and John Moody, pose for a photo at the grand opening of their new shop on Grand Avenue in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.

Six months later they started dating — and less than two years later the couple moved to LA.

After traveling with the band on tour as its “merch girl,” Ruiz said, the couple moved to LA to pursue their art careers. They had always been creatives. MDMN had a graphic design degree and Ruiz grew up with a mom who was a chef. Crafting and Ruiz were old friends, as she made jewelry and clothes and created collages.

Though they worked in the corporate world by day — Ruiz as a merchandiser for Coca-Cola and Ruiz as a sous chef for Chef Jose Andres at Tres in SLS Hotel — they were invested in the arts community.

It was in LA that Moody established himself as MDMN. In Beverly Hills, Orange County or Hollywood, he anonymously scattered stickers across the city. No one knew who he was, but these simple stickers communicated his name.

“What was I going to do? Write John on the sticker? I couldn’t do that,” Moody said, laughing.

Making stickers turned into creating posters which turned into learning how to paint murals. Soon, Moody dropped his corporate job to work at Blick Art Materials, the biggest professional art supply shop in Hollywood. Aside from working with and for celebrities and artists across the city — Beyoncé, J-Lo and Ozzy Osbourne to name a few — Moody traveled to the largest cities in the country painting murals. Ruiz worked as his manager and accountant.

"I went from $22 dollars an hour to $9 an hour, and it was hard," Moody said. "I had to go find it, I had to go get out there and sleep on couches, sleep in rental cars, do walls for free. But it was all worth it."

Building a bridge

Clothes hang on a rack next to the register of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.
Clothes hang on a rack next to the register of Eighty Seven in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2021.

One year of “hopefully making it” in LA turned into 10, Moody said. They created a community in LA. Street artists and graffiti artists showed up to the fancy restaurant district in Beverly Hills where Ruiz worked. All of Ruiz's girlfriends trekked to street art festivals.

The Fairfax District in LA had become their inspiration — a clothing and arts neighborhood with vintage, retro, upscale and brick and mortar boutiques and shops. Soon, they knew it was time to come back to Phoenix. Their goal? Pursuing independence and entrepreneurship and bringing what they learned to the Phoenix arts community. They moved back in 2018.

"You don't just simply walk away from one of the largest, most famous cities in the world," Moody said. "Our friends were so concerned, but we knew we wanted to move back to Phoenix and build a bridge. We said to them, 'Phoenix doesn't have this yet, but we want to take what we've learned here and go build the bridge over there, so you guys come on here and we can expand."

Though the couple owns a store, the two care more about the relationships they'll build through it. It's always been about the community, they said, and the art they can share with others.

"You can come in and talk about art and the art scene and streetwear," Moody said. "We've always been people to curate. This isn't going to be about us, it's our time to bring everyone together."

Details: Eighty Seven, 1325 Grand Ave #108, Phoenix. Hours are 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. https://www.instagram.com/eighty.sevenshop/

Reach the reporter at sofia.krusmark@gannett.com. Follow her on Instagram @sofia.krusmark

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Eighty Seven is a new shop and art collective on Grand Ave in Phoenix

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