I’ve been thinking quite a bit about downtown retail – about how far we’ve come, yet how far we’ve got to go with making downtown Oklahoma City a shopping destination.
The opening of Native Roots Market is, as I’ve said, a big deal for downtown – especially Deep Deuce. But as Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. surveys folks about what can be added next, and I continue to hear suggestions of further experimentation with “pop-up shops” like the ones that were featured at Better Block OKC, I’ve been thinking – what might work downtown?
First, a sampling of what has opened, or is about to open downtown: we have a big retailer with Bass Pro Shops in Bricktown. Other Bricktown retailers include the Bricktown Marketplace/Emporium, The Painted Door, Bricktown Candy Company, Guestroom Records Put a Cork in It, The Store and the House of Bedlam.
Along Automobile Alley we have Broadway Wine Merchants, Pinpoint Monograms, Schlegal Bicycles, Shop Good, Treasures Past, Rawhide and soon, Plenty Mercantile. Deep Deuce now has Native Roots Market and soon Deep Deuce Wines.
MidTown has Floral and Hardy Florist, MidTown Optical and Meg Guess Couture.
The Central Business District has Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy, Nancy Farha Clothing, Tina Hicks Clothing, Floral and Hardy Florist, Becky’s Hallmark, A Story of Hope Gift Shop, the Tinder Box, the Thunder gift shop and B.C. Clark Jewelers.
It’s not a bad start. And Automobile Alley is showing a lot of promise. But we’re far from recovering downtown Oklahoma City’s magical retail past.
So here’s my attempt at brainstorming some retail ideas.
We know that a popcorn shop is opening in downtown Tulsa. If it can work there, why not in downtown OKC?
Downtown lost Taylor’s Newsstand a few years ago. I still miss it terribly. I know we can’t bring back a full fledged, old fashioned newsstand with the variety of newspapers, magazines and books we took for granted at Taylor’s. But good grief, surely there is demand for a hybrid of such an operation – maybe combined with a coffee shop?
First bit of brainstorming – restore the line up of retail along Park Avenue. I dream of Hallmark returning back to its spot along Park Avenue in the First National retail arcade with a newsstand opening next door. Do another switch – have the doctor’s offices in the retail arcade switch sides of the First National arcade with the Medicine Cabinet getting the storefront space now wasted by the doctor’s offices. Then have the Medicine Cabinet, accessible to the street and much more visible, expand it’s operation and hours.
Don’t mess with the Tinder Box. Leave it alone, but provide it with better signage.
Now, this leaves us with one empty space in the Medical Arts Building at the corner of Park and Broadway. We give this space to Hans Herman, a very popular tailor among downtown’s movers and shakers.
Now, see what I’ve done? In my parlor game, I have a great stretch of retail along Park Avenue that begins with B.C. Clark’s and a tailor shop at Broadway, continues with the Story of Hope Gift Shop, the Hallmark store, a newsstand, and the Medicine Cabinet pharmacy. We also have UMB Bank and Café 7 in that mix. Convince me why this is not doable. Not a bad start for a one-block stretch in the heart of downtown, right?
Now, we have another vacancy where the OKC Florist was in the Robinson Renaissance building at Park and Robinson. This is a bit tougher for me to figure out. But it’s an opportunity waiting to be picked up with the space still empty. It would be great if Tina Hicks would take the corner – but I hear there’s no moving that clothing store from its very successful spot on the second floor of Oklahoma Tower. Next door to the former OKC Florist space is MidFirst Bank, followed by Floral and Hardy and the Thunder Gift Shop across the street. The block fills out with a sub shop about to open in the Park Harvey building next to the sushi restaurant.
This is my first entry in this parlor game. Please discuss – how do we make Park Avenue between Broadway and Harvey Avenue a great continuous stretch of retail?