If you've been keeping up with our Instagram, you've likely seen one of the district takeovers in our stories. For the past four months, I’ve been lucky enough to travel from district to district around the state with my camera and call it "work." I’ll admit, having lived in Oklahoma my entire life, I went into these takeovers thinking I already knew of every spot worth visiting. I couldn't have been more happy to be wrong. These takeovers have only increased my love for this state and all of the hidden gems it has to offer. (Idea: Maybe we stop referring to these places as “hidden gems” and call them “gems that are very easily found if you put in the effort of looking past the chain stores.” Flows off the tongue, right?)
The takeover that really caused my brain to shift from “There’s nothing new here” to “wait, Oklahoma has one of these!?” was the Tulsa takeover. The week I spent in Tulsa back in February was full of trying new places and meeting the people behind the counters, storefronts, and Instagram pages. Here are five new-to-me places that I loved getting to see.
01. Blue Moon Café– To the best of my knowledge, I’d never had French toast in my life (I know). Thankfully, Blue Moon Café was there to fix that. They make their bread from scratch so you KNOW it was good. They’re also a full-blown bakery so you can take goods home and try your hand at making French toast yourself, if you’re ambitious.
02. Jenkins & Co. –
This is one of those shops I would go to if I just moved into a super cute house and needed the inside to look like one of my Pinterest boards. I’m not kidding, I wish I could’ve taken home every chair and trinket I saw in there. What’s good about local home and gift stores is everything is so much more personal. Whether it’s something for yourself or a friend, it already has more of a story than just some pillow from Target. That, and you get to talk about a cool, local business to someone else!
03. Made – I felt the same way about Made that I did about Jenkins & Co., but Made is a little bit more gift-centered rather than home-centered. That being said, I still left with some awesome little succulent planters that are now one of my favorite things in my apartment. They’ve got everything from vintage jewelry, to bath goods, to t-shirts. Made is one of those stores you go in to be surprised and walk out with something you didn’t know you needed.
04. Topeca (Philcade) – The newest Topeca location is in the Philcade building downtown. The Philcade building is an Art Deco lover’s dream. I got to see the new location while it was being built and just went back last week to see how it turned out. Topeca totally honored the style of the building. Between the black and white tile, gold bar stools, and a window that looks out onto the most gorgeous lobby, it’s easy to be transported back in time. Oh yeah, and they have good coffee too (but everyone in OK already knew that!).
05. STEMcell Science Shop – Oh how I wish this was around when I was a kid. STEMcell Science Shop is a little white shipping crate in The Boxyard filled with gadgets and curiosities that can even make adults geek-out (anyone in need of a dinosaur skull for their mantel?). It’s such a cool, niche shop that I hope encourages other unique stores to pop up as well!
Tulsa has always been a favorite of mine for a day trip, and these local businesses have made my more recent trips even more fun. They’ve also helped me realize that how you spend your money can actually shape a city. If the STEMcell’s and Made’s of a city are supported by how people choose to spend their money, we’ll only continue to see awesome small businesses grow (which can lead to a city’s economic growth, walkability, I could go on!). So go take a trip to Tulsa for yourself and see what other cool businesses exist out there that you wouldn’t have known of otherwise.
Natalie is the Creative Lead at Keep It Local OK. She loves puppies and matcha. Follow @keepitlocalok on Instagram to catch her district takeovers or follow her at @natalierayh.