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Welcome to Bisbee, Arizona, a town with a rich history of mining and commerce. Today, we'll be exploring one of the town's most famous landmarks, the Phelps Dodge Mercantile, which was once the Copper Queen Store.

After the mining boom and population explosion of 1885, Bisbee was home to thirty independent groceries, six clothing stores, and one other large department store. However, local merchants were price-gouging Bisbee residents, so James Douglas purchased Mary Crossley's General Store in 1886 and transformed it into the Copper Queen Store to lower the cost of goods for the community. The Copper Queen Store sold various goods including groceries, textiles, clothing, furniture, pharmaceuticals, and more.

The Phelps Dodge Mercantile was the Copper Queen Store until a devastating fire in 1939 burned the original structure down. However, the new building still stands today and is located in the Copper Queen Plaza in Bisbee, right across the street from the Copper Queen Library and Bisbee Heritage Museum. This new building was the first commercial project by the contractor Del Webb and was designed by the Phoenix-based architectural firm Lescher and Mahoney, who specialized in Spanish Art-Deco style structures.

Miners could buy goods on credit from their mining paychecks, and a giant warehouse for the store was located where the paid parking lot is today. The Phelps Dodge Mercantile continued to serve the community until 1976, a year after mining ended, when it closed its doors. But the building was not left abandoned for long, becoming a vacant community center that hosted various events. Your tour guide even attended two high school proms there and won Prince of the prom his junior year in high school in 1983.

The Phelps Dodge Mercantile was not the only one in the Bisbee area. There were four more throughout the area until the mid-1970s when mining stopped. One was in Lowell AZ, another in Warren AZ, another called the El Rancho Supermarket in San Jose AZ, and the last was called the Naco Mercantile in Naco AZ. The Naco Mercantile received a homemade bomb through its roof made by Patrick Murphy during the Naco Bombing of 1929.

Despite the building's many transitions and transformations, much of the original decor, walls, and flooring remains intact. Today, the businesses and entities operating in the old Phelps Dodge Mercantile building include Bisbee's Table, The Bisbee Coffee Company, Calvary Church, Mels Bisbee Bodega, Mercantile on Main, and Bisbee Books & Music. This historic building is now an attraction for Big Jeep Tours in Bisbee, Arizona, and a must-see for anyone interested in the town's rich history.

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