A plea on behalf of local retail
As we ease into Phase 2 and a greater sensation of less lockdown, let's come together to help some of the folks that make OKC what it is.
One of the truly ruinous aspects of this virus has been the response's effect on local retailers. These are people who have "followed the rules" of good independent retailers to create experiences you can't replicate or get online. That is why they have survived in a difficult retail environment to begin with. They have added to the dynamism of what Oklahoma City is and what we are proud of in ways not just anyone can replicate.
There is no Plenty Mercantile in Kansas City or Dallas. Chicago doesn't have a Shop Good. L.A. would be blessed to have Black Scintilla. New York City doesn't have shops like Red Coyote or OK Runner that do so much to support one of their city's biggest philanthropic community events. Exploring these types of businesses and establishments is why people come to visit and, in many cases, ultimately to live here in Oklahoma City -- not because we have big boxes and superstores, or big-name national retailers. Don’t get me wrong - those things are important and necessary and a positive part of our quality of life as well. But they are not what sets us apart from other places. They are not why people that visit proclaim delight at what OKC has to offer. They aren’t representative of the kinds of things that are unique to our market and instill pride in us as residents.
We know there are purveyors – local entrepreneurs, local owners, local moms and pops - whose stores and family livelihoods are in danger. They've tried their best, but weren't able to secure bridge loans, SBA help or even our own SBCP. They've been put in the unenviable position to survive on their own, without any taxpayer help. But I believe in the power of community. I believe in us. I believe in the free market. I believe we can help these people and by doing so help strengthen the fabric of the place we call home. And if you've been on as many Zoom calls as I have recently, you are probably aware of the fact that no online experience can truly supplant in-person interaction and browsing in a store that honestly strives to welcome you and give you an experiential reason to want to return.
I realize you and your family are likely affected financially. If not, you're probably at least a little scared of what the future may hold for your own livelihood. But all it takes is a little creative thought and a few dollars – collectively, that can go a long way to holding on and saving what makes our community special. That may mean making a point to check out some of our local establishments' websites and social media accounts and doing some shopping or some gift card ordering from home. Or, if you’re like me, you may be thinking of satisfying that local restaurant craving that’s been building as you’ve been baking your own bread and churning your own butter over the past few weeks. So as you're safely soaking up the patio scene at Chamber members like The Wedge, maybe also grab some coffee beans at Leaf + Bean. Heading to Bar Ciccetti for lunch? Throw a bone to Bone across the street. Taking a weekend walk around Bricktown? Grab a streetcar ride up Automobile Alley and explore Plenty Mercantile, Tin Lizzie’s and Shop Good. Make your way to McNellie’s for dinner and explore all the offerings at Black Scintilla, mode and the other shops in Midtown.
Consider visiting The Painted Door and Exhibit C for a belated Mother's Day or Graduation gift. Shop Scissortail Gifts early for Father's Day. Make a new tradition and buy something from Barkeep for Memorial Day, or grab some books for yourself or loved ones at Full Circle or Commonplace. Consider a Flag Day gift from Apple Tree Chocolate. Chase the COVID-19 blues away with a few items from Blue 7. These people--our friends and neighbors--need our help, and the next few days may prove to be make-or-break time when it comes to some of our favorite shops and stores.
We know some of these folks are in trouble. And they are too proud and professional to beg. So instead, I'm calling on you to step out and be proactive and help to save some of these folks that need our help, and thus help continue to make OKC what it is - a unique community that takes care of its own. And isn't that the Oklahoma Standard?