Keep It Local Blog
Stories, interviews, and local insights that we hope will inspire you to support the local shops, restaurants, and services that make Oklahoma unique.
Because I co-own and run a vintage shop, I am asked every day where I find the pieces for the shop and for my home. My business partner and I used to be offended and shy with our response, protecting our trade secrets and not talking about our "competitors."
But let's be honest, we LOVE vintage shopping and we LOVE Tulsa. We came to an important conclusion–survival of our type of small business relies on all of the many ways a person can vintage shop. People who enjoy vintage shopping come in a variety of personality types–some of us prefer to push our sleeves up and get dirty, others like estate sales where they can traipse through homes, many prefer a neatly arranged antique store, and some of us (ME!) adore all these vintage hunting methods.
The more we celebrate one another and recommend other shops, the more easily our customers will find what they are looking for. Vintage shops change every day, almost hourly, with what they have in stock, so it's really nice for customers to have help finding resources for their specific needs. We want to support the vintage shopping lifestyle, because it's so fun and rewarding. Plus a home decorated with vintage pieces is a home filled with meaning and great stories. We think this ultimately makes for better people, but that's a longer story.
That's my take on vintage shopping, and here is my business partner (Ashley Palmer) and my blog series on our personal favorite places to shop vintage in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ashley Daly co-owns Retro Den, a home store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that buys, sells, and trades vintage home goods and furniture. Also find locally crafted homewares, as well as air-plants and regionally grown succulents. Everything you need to make your home a place that gives you energy and joy. Follow them on Instagram at @retrodentulsa.
There’s just something about driving through small towns in Oklahoma that gives you a whole new appreciation for this state. We live in a place where we can experience an exploding downtown and still be able to get that small-town America feel less than an hour away.
On my last Keep It Local Instagram takeover, I was able to experience three of these small Oklahoma towns in a totally new-to-me way. I took a drive North and stopped by Guthrie, Stillwater, and Enid to see why these small towns make us anything but a flyover state.
There’s a charm that comes from being in a town with fewer than 12,000 residents (Guthrie comes in at 11,492). The small size is great for city or suburb-dwellers like myself. Guthrie is the perfect escape for when you don’t want to drive too far, but need a break from the hurry of OKC or Edmond. A place that I find myself often is Hoboken Coffee Roasters. It’s a relaxed space ideal for getting lost in a book or just enjoying the sounds of Thelonious Monk on their record player. Go on a roasting day and it’s the perfect place to engage all of your senses.
Stillwater is a town that holds fond memories for a lot of people, myself included. Stillwater has a magic that can only be found in a college town, but it’s far more than Eskimo Joes and Cowboy’s games. There are plenty of local shops that support locally made products, so the local love comes full circle. 1907 Meat Co. is one of those places. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest meat eater, but I’d 100% shop or eat at 1907. I think it’s important (and also cool, in a nerdy way) to know where your food is coming from and who’s making it. It’s fresher, better for you, and since local food reduces the need for transportation, eating locally is good for the environment, too! Wins all around. Pistols firing!
Enid was the only small town on this takeover I’d never been to before. Beyond the slightly longer drive (which is good for deep thinking and also singing out loud to Justin Timberlake), this small town has its own tiny treasures, a lot of which can be found at The Felt Bird. I’m always so excited to see shops like this, because to me, they’re a representation of how a town is growing. I wanted to leave that store with so many things (from dreamy dresses to dog bandanas). It reminded me why it’s important to shop small. The people behind the stores are worth supporting.
While I only visited three small towns, Oklahoma has plenty more. They’re perfect for a weekend trip, even if that just means exploring the shelves of an antique store to see what makes you laugh or think. Take the drive. Go to a small town. See what really makes Oklahoma unique.
During the time that I was running Collected Thread, I heard customers and friends lamenting on the difficulty of shopping local. And to be honest, a lot of their complaints were mine as well. It is frustrating to get out of the car, get your kids unloaded and grab your bags to realize that the shop owner ran out of lunch or is home with a sick kid. We are so use to it just being a grocery store or a restaurant or a bookstore that we forget that people, sometimes just one person, is running that business. So we get back in the car and try not to be too frustrated and remember that this is a person with needs too. But it is hard. This just railroaded our day and now the kids are losing their minds because the bakery was closed and they wanted a treat or whatever. I think remembering that humanity exists behind this business is good but the frustration is valid as well. The flip side to that is that it sure is a special feeling to walk into a restaurant or shop and know the owner. I love going into Chirps and Cheers and seeing Sami and Susan Kropp. They are two of the kindest people in OKC. Like, they are so kind that it is hard to be in a bad mood when you are around them. I love knowing that when I purchase something, I am supporting them and their darling shop. To me, that is worth the frustration.
Another complaint I would hear would be how hard it is to find certain items locally. During the big Shop Local movement in Oklahoma a few years back, the message of “Shop Local” somehow got distorted to buy absolutely everything local and if you don’t, you should feel really, really bad about it. I know that is how I felt every time I bought a $5 kids shirt from Target. I would run through the store hoping that I didn’t see anyone that I knew. I don’t think that shopping local means you need to strictly buy local nor should you feel shame when you don’t. I think it is just being conscious of when you can. And sometimes going a little out of your way to do so. Here is a simple example: I needed to buy Easter eggs and candy for both of my sons’ Easter egg hunts at school. I was going to grab them at (gasp) Walmart when a thought occurred to me. “I bet Homeland has Easter eggs and candy and they are a local grocery store!” And they did! Yippee! I don’t think buying local has to be a huge lifestyle change. I think it can be a simple thought process change. Stop and think, is this something that I can buy local or not. Do I have time to make one more stop? Can I get everything I need at Ely’s grocery store or do I need to go to Sprouts? Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t...or you can, but it is going to add too much stress to your day. That is OKAY!!!!! I do think that a simple pause to reflect on what your options are is all the lifestyle change you need to do.
I know my pal, Kristen Vails Gilpin, will be covering this topic a lot more extensively in this blog. She is a wise lady and you should read everything she writes. I just wanted to throw my two cents in there!
On one hand, the effort to #keepitlocaler in the food category is easy. I don’t think I need to convince a majority of people that local restaurants offer better food and more desirable dining experiences. The Oklahoma City restaurant scene is thriving and my April budget backs that up. April was rich with local food and drink:
However, there are a few areas in the food category where sometimes it’s easy to miss an opportunity. We’re not big on eating fast food, but sometimes that’s just what happens. We stick with Sonic and Braum’s as a local option for fast food. There are enough locations spread across the city to keep it convenient, and I honestly prefer the menu over any other fast food chains. I also really appreciate Sonic’s progressive leadership and community investment as a company and Braum’s market offerings for when you just need a few staples.
Our household has affinity for cheap beer (don’t worry, we love local beer too). It’d be easy to grab a six pack from any gas station or grocery store, but we prefer to pick it up from the corner store in our neighborhood, the S&S. My husband loves to walk down the block to visit with the store owner, Prince, and I love to have a place to grab a Kit Kat when I’m craving something sweet.
Right now, most liquor stores are local, but soon we’ll be able to purchase those items from the grocery store. I want to continue to support my favorite liquor store, Modern Liquor, because they are a familiar face and always give us great recommendations. They’ve even brought in labels we’ve requested. I don’t expect to get that kind of service from a grocery store.
On the other hand, groceries are the hardest part of my effort to #keepitlocaler. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Aldi. Last summer, I tried to make the switch to a local grocery store but I just couldn’t make it work. Aldi is just a really great fit for us when it comes to budget and quality. However, we have been able to shift some of our grocery budget locally. For the past few months, we’ve been picking up local eggs from Upward Harvest. They’ve recently created a program which delivers local meat and produce to your door. In April, we enjoyed local bison, tilapia, greens, eggs, and herbs. We also pick up a few odds and ends from Crest when we can’t find what we need at Aldi. Braum’s Fresh Market is also a regular stop for odds and ends between grocery shopping.
At the end of the month, 67% of our food and drink budget was spent locally. I feel good about this, but I’d love to be able to expand our local shopping to include more locally grown, raised and made options in the future. Remember you can also #keepitlocaler by purchasing locally made food and drink. A few of our favorites include Anthem beer, Big Oak Kombucha, Towhead salsa, and various local honey jars and locally roasted coffee.
Food & Drink Notes
What does shopping more local mean for a millenial(ish) couple who are striving to have a more minimal lifestyle when it comes to material things?
Supporting local food and drink is a great way to value experiences and togetherness over “stuff.”
What is the feasibility of a commitment to shop local for those that do not have much flexibility or resources? For the single mom, the family living paycheck to paycheck, the person without access to reliable transportation?
The reality is, for our city’s most vulnerable, access to quality food is rarely a choice. Supporting local grocers such as Crest, Buy 4 Less and Supermercado Morelos is a great way to support local businesses that provide options and access to groceries for so many in our community.
You love Oklahoma and support all things local like the independent shops, restaurants, and services that make our state such a great place to live and visit, but why stop there? Display your Okie pride for all to see with this free wallpaper for your phone and desktop designed by artist, Mauricio Cremer. Download by clicking on the links below!
About the Artist: Born and raised in Costa Rica, Mauricio's creative leanings began at an early age surrounded by an artistic family. From architects to painters, he grew up in an environment of constant inspiration. Now, with over 15 years as a designer & maker, Mauricio has produced multiple award-winning identity and print projects.