Iconic Yuma store closing down

The Yuma Foothills Trading Post along I-8, known for its huge statues and artwork outside, will soon close.
Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 4:49 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -It’s hard to miss the Yuma Foothills Trading Post as you’re driving past it on I-8. The huge statues and artwork it has outside its store draw your attention to the long-standing business. But it won’t be there for long as the beloved Foothills store is closing down.

Metal sculptures of aliens, spaceships, flowers, and even Mexican pottery can be found at the front of the store. James Mellinger said there is something for everyone at the store. He opened the store nearly 20 years ago. It first started as a cactus nursery. Over time, it became his dream yard filled with art and custom metal work he sources from artists in Mexico.

Some might wonder who would even buy a giant gorilla family like the one he has out front of his store, but Mellinger said you’d be surprised. “Somebody will come along and say I like this,” Mellinger said.

Inside his store, he has a small metal alien riding a motorcycle. For him, it’s not just art but comedy. “People, people, I love to make people laugh; that’s why I am in sales,” Mellinger says. “From San Diego to Phoenix and Tucson, people driving by, every time they pass through here, they stop and buy,” he said.

He recently sold his business to a buyer who was willing to keep the dream going, but the new owner suffered a car accident. “He got burned in a car fire, 50% of his body, so he really doesn’t have the strength to do the work,” says Mellinger, so the new owner can’t keep the business going. He’s now stepped up to help sell what’s left at the store.

“This turtle here called to me, so I had to pick it up,” said Seth, a Yuma resident. The trading post has served as a place where locals and winter snowbirds can find iconic pieces to fill their homes. “It’s part of the culture in the Foothills, so it’s sad to see it go, but I got a piece,” said Seth.

It’s a culture Mellinger hopes will live on through the beautiful pieces he’s sold over the years. “That Arizona, the Foothills, has something to be proud of, that’s what we are,” he said.

The store will be open until everything sells out. Mellinger said there are buyers interested in the property, but he said whatever business opens up next won’t be anything quite like the trading post.

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