Diverse and successful retailers call Downtown OKC home
Downtown Oklahoma City continues to be the destination of choice for retailers looking for a unique place to do business. It is home to a mix of one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants, and, better yet, most are locally owned.
From seasoned veterans like B.C. Clark Jewelers and Teena Hicks Co. to newcomers like Native Roots Market and Shop Good, shoppers can find just about anything within the Downtown boundaries.
Where Downtown was once a retail void, shops and restaurants continue to open in every nook and cranny, from the central business district to revitalized areas like Automobile Alley and Film Row.
Retail experts continually point to Downtown as the place to be for those looking to open businesses. With foot traffic from Downtown denizens, visitors and tourists alike, business owners find willing customers for their unique offerings.
“I’m excited to see the increased interest in opening local, independent shops in the downtown area over the last couple of years,” says Allison Bailey, owner of retail consulting firm Barta Bailey. “Future value will be in developing quality communities that will continue to attract customers for the experience and in creating an atmosphere where customers foster a relation ship each time they visit.”
Shop Good owners Justin and Audrey Falk took a chance on Downtown in 2010 when they opened the store at Three N.W. Ninth Street in Automobile Alley. Their mission was simple: sell locally made and ethically produced products, and then give back some of the proceeds to help worthy causes. They could have opened in another area of the city but got a glimpse of what was coming Downtown and wanted to be a part of the burgeoning retail scene.
“We saw the initial indications that Downtown was going somewhere and reinventing itself,” Justin Falk said. “It just made sense for us.”
Three years after opening, they can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Jane Jenkins, president and CEO of Downtown OKC Inc., says the Falks helped pave the way for diverse retailers to take a chance on Automobile Alley and Downtown.
“Automobile Alley had bike shops, eateries and a wine shop, but nothing like Shop Good at that time,” she says. “There’s a lot of optimism Downtown.”
Jenkins says retailers of all stripes can find success Downtown, especially with an increasing number of new residents and visitors who want to shop.
“The demand is there, especially with the housing and hotels that are booming right now,” she says. “People want to spend their time and their money Downtown.”
Another plus for Downtown shoppers and merchants, Jenkins says, is the close proximity of retailers all accessible within a short walk. Visitors and Downtown veterans can leisurely stroll around the area and find old favorites and some undiscovered gems without ever getting in a car.
“People want walkable shops,” she says. While Downtown is largely populated with locally owned businesses, Jessica Herrera, manager of Retail Development and Recruitment for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, says national retailers are also looking Downtown but are willing to adapt to the landscape with smaller, more urban stores.
“Downtown Oklahoma is doing a great job keeping its customers engaged by offering entertainment, arts, food and technology in conjunction with the developing retail,” she says. “And with the growing population and efforts currently underway to enhance the downtown physical environment, I expect we will see increased retail development and sustainable growth in the years to come.”