Mustafa and Shimokubo: The Scottsdale we know

Carly Wallace is pictured outside her family’s store in Old Town Scottsdale. In 1929, her grandfather, J. Chew Song, opened a grocery store in the same location. (submitted photo)

Every community, like every person, has a reputation. Sometimes that reputation is well-deserved, but just as often, there is a lot more to a person or a place than their reputation would lead you to believe.

What is Scottsdale’s reputation? We brace a little bit when considering that question, because we know what many would say in response.

Snobs-dale. Snots-dale. Rich, white, fake, conceited. Those are part of common Scottsdale stereotypes.

And those who like to perpetuate those stereotypes can usually point at people who give a little validity to those descriptions.

Heck, some kids in South Park, Colorado, even consider Scottsdale “the most horrible, most miserable place on Earth.” And that’s saying something considering what goes on in that town.

Nadia Mustafa

The Scottsdale we know, however, can’t be sketched in simple strokes, or captured in a stereotype. This is our home, and we know it as a wonderfully faceted mix of styles, cultures, heritage, generations and tastes.

A community of real people with real stories – a place for all.

As resident volunteers appointed by the City Council to serve on the Human Relations Commission, we set out to find those stories and help people tell them. It has been a wonderful journey so far, and we are just getting started.

We spoke with Katie, a former educator and current mom to three young children, and met Farah, a local business owner who wants her business to reflect her community.

And, we were very impressed with Anaik, a second-grader who proudly wears a patka because it is a symbol of his Sikh religion, and will help people “know who I am and that I can help them if they need it.”

We set out into Old Town Scottsdale to meet more people and ask if businesses would display our “Scottsdale for All” posters, which encourage people to join this growing conversation.

Among the wonderful people we met there was Carly Wallace at her family’s store. Carly’s grandfather, J. Chew Song, emigrated from China and eventually made his way to Scottsdale. In 1929 he opened a grocery store and learned to communicate in Pima and in Spanish, so he could serve the people that made up a large part of his business.

Even though the business has changed – it is now called Mexican Imports – his family has continued to operate in the same location for generations. You can still see his name above the door of that historic building at Brown and Main.

Even though we have met many people, we are just scratching the surface. We are excited to continue this journey, and encourage each of you to join us – visit to meet more of Scottsdale’s unique people and enjoy their stories.

Scottsdale residents Nadia Mustafa and Janice Shimokubo are members of the City of Scottsdale Human Relations Commission.

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