The 16th Street Merchants have a new name. The group of business owners that supports local shopping as well as the surrounding community is now known as Madison Merchants Sweet 16.

To celebrate, the group will host a community picnic from 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Parkway Church, 1751 E. Maryland Ave. Admission is free, and the event will include lunch for $5, free giveaways, live entertainment and more.

Madison Merchants Sweet 16 believes in supporting the community by shopping and eating local. The group plans to host various events throughout the year to showcase the businesses involved.

The business association was formed in 2005 in an effort to revitalize an area of Phoenix that has since developed into one of the most desirable intersections in the Valley—16th Street and Bethany Home Road. The business owners who serve as members came together via their shared passion for offering support to neighboring and nearby local businesses, and the importance of “uniting forces” in an effort to better the area for businesses and residents alike.

Initially, the Madison Merchants worked with the city of Phoenix to declare itself a Fight Back Area, which allowed the organization to access grant funds as well as services to help clean up the neighborhood, proving instrumental to the area’s current success.

Madison Merchants Sweet 16 hosts semi-annual meetings for members throughout the year, and is proud of its affiliation with Local First Arizona. Members of the Madison Merchants organization include Astemborski Insurance Agency, Burland Jewelry Center, Inc., Delete Tattoo Removal and Laser Salon, Diamond Jim’s jewelry store, HP2 Promotions, Local First Arizona, Parkway Church, Phoenix City Grille, Puff & Fluff Grooming Services, Roy Noggle Architects, AIA, TexAZ Grill, Trend Smoke Vape, and The Vig locations.

“It is important to embrace local businesses, especially those that support the community,” said Liz Illg, president of the Madison Merchants Sweet 16. “Our association is comprised of business owners who do just that. We look forward to hosting a picnic to celebrate our name change and to bring the community together.”

The schedule of events for the Oct. 7 Community Picnic includes: arts and crafts for kids (ongoing); an Ice Cream Eating Contest at 1:30 p.m. (kids and adults separately); Yoga for Dogs at 2 p.m.; a regular yoga class at 3 p.m.; and door prize drawings at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Door prizes include a $50 gift card to The Vig, Lunch for Two at TEXAZ Grill, a Press Coffee Basket, a Promotional Cooler Basket from HP2, $50 off services at Puff & Fluff, and more.

In addition, hamburgers provided by Hobe Meats, and hot dogs from Schreiner’s Fine Sausage, will be available for purchase for $5, which includes chips and a drink.

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