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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.

#keepitlocaler: Home Improvement


#Keepitlocaler: Home Improvement by Kristen Vails Gilpin

Home improvement supplies could really be a big way to make a shift-to-local impact within our budget, but I admit this is an area where we have trouble keeping it local. For us, this goes beyond just home improvement as we also purchase supplies for art projects and my husband’s business on a regular basis.

In an effort to explore how we can do better, I’ve done a little research on some possible alternatives to Lowe’s, Home Depot or Ace Hardware, which is where we are mostly purchasing these supplies currently. So, the below local businesses are not necessarily recommendations as we have not been customers at all, but I’m hoping this list will help us try out some new businesses.

Whitton Supply Co.
While specializing in power tools, they appear to have a great selection of general tools and hardware. They even have a repair center for tools as well! I’m glad I came across it, we definitely need to go check it out. Unfortunately, they are not open on Saturday or Sunday which could make it difficult for weekend projects.

The Light Bulb Store
I have heard of this store through my local loving friend Allison Barta Bailey. With light bulbs lasting longer and longer, and along the way the prices rising, it might be time to think of purchasing light bulbs as an intentional stop rather than just picking them up when at a big box store. I’ve heard they have every light bulb you can imagine, specialty bulbs as well as lighting fixtures. Not open on weekends.

The Lumber Shed
Locally owned lumber yard offering lumber, siding, decking and hardware, in business since 1936!

Fox Building Supply
Specializing in Lumber Products, Insulation, Siding, Roofing, Windows, Doors, Fencing and Decking Material, Plumbing and Electrical Supplies, Hand and Power Tools And More! Open on Saturdays as well.

Builders Warehouse
Kitchen, Bathroom, Flooring, Interior doors, tile and more. Open on  Saturdays and Sundays as well.

CD Faucet & Parts
Our kitchen sink handle broke off, and we couldn’t find the part in stores or online. We just bought a whole new faucet set, I wish I would have checked here!

TLCMarcum's, PreCurePam’s Plants
There nurseries are a must when it comes to garden projects. They have everything you need and huge greenhouses with quality plants, many of which are grown in their nursery. Pam’s plants has less of a selection, but it’s close to my home and I can always get the basics (including pumpkins right now!)

Ted’s Appliance
I couldn’t find a local resource for new appliance stores, but I did purchase my dryer from Ted’s and it’s lasted several years!

Hopefully you might be able to try out some of these businesses too! I would love your feedback if so. I would also love to hear your recommendations for businesses I missed to add to my list!


Home Improvement 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?
Most purchases for home improvement needs are rooted in fixing what we already have and taking care of our current material things. While there is certainly alot of extra stuff you can purchase in a big box home improvement store, visiting some of these more specialized store could help curb the desire to pick up a few extra things you didn’t plan for.

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?
When it comes to home improvement, the convenience of a big box store definitely wins out in this context. I don’t believe there are enough local options to make shopping local in this area a true alternative.

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#keepitlocaler: Clothing


#keepitlocaler: Clothing by Kristen Vails Gilpin

I’m not much of a shopper when it comes to clothing. I typically purchase only something I specifically need -- a dress for an event, athletic shoes, a work jacket that goes with everything. I’m pretty practical when it comes to clothing and how much I buy, so this allows me to be more strategic about where I shop. Here are a few examples of strategic shopping where I was able to #keepitlocaler.

Shop Good
This summer I was specifically looking for a hat to wear on a vacation, and Shop Good came through. They’ve got a wonderful selection of accessories, t-shirts and hoodies. What’s better? Your t-shirt purchases support a good cause.

Blue Seven / Just OK
I purchase a pair of raw denim jeans every other year. I don’t formally participate in the Clean Start Project, but I do my own version. Spending a decent amount on quality jeans is definitely worth the investment. They keep their shape and I rarely wash them (my husband blogged about this here), which makes getting dressed so much easier. My 2 year old jeans literally busted last night. Time for another visit! They’ve also got a great selection of casual clothing, shoes and accessories.

Red Coyote Running and Fitness 
I’ve just gotten back into running this year, so after I’d kept the habit long enough to justify new shoes, I went to Red Coyote. New shoes were way overdue. The staff was super helpful and gave me informed advice that catered to my specific running style. They’ve got a thorough selection of shoes and brands along with clothing and accessories for every level of runner.

Fruition Designs
I’d been on the hunt for a new work computer bag for several months. I’d been using a tote bag not meant for a laptop for 2 years, and my coworker was growing tired of my over-dramatic exclamation that this bag is ruining my life. I hadn’t planned on going in to Fruition to find a bag, but they had the perfect size leather bag for only $100. Even better, the Carry 117 bag was handmade by women in Ethiopia and my purchase supported their work. The store also carries home goods, artwork and gifts from talented artisans.

I picked up some simple black sandals and a swim coverup this summer.

The Black Scintilla
I found a lovely blouse for work.

Admittedly, the biggest challenge I have for local clothes shopping is finding my age/work appropriate clothing. I feel like a majority of boutiques cater to younger audiences and there isn’t much selection when it comes to finding work clothing that fits my style. I’m a regular at Nordstrom Rack, Modcloth and Name Brand Clothing, but I always try and hit up boutiques to see if I can find what I need there first. Also, my husband and I are pretty active outdoors. We’ve loved going to Native Summit, but it’s so far from our home. We’d love to have more options for outdoor clothing to purchase locally. So, I’ve found the best way to go about it is to mix it up, save my big purchases for local shops and just do what I can. Remember, the shift is about moving just a percentage, not the whole nine yards. I don’t have much advice when it comes to men’s shopping. My husband pretty much only wears t-shirts from his old store and local artist friends. I’d love to hear your recommendations on local men’s shopping!

Clothing 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?
Planning to purchase only what you need, but being able to invest in a higher-quality products is an excellent way to limit an overflowing closet. Planning to purchase these items from a local shop is even better.

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? Local thrift stores are probably the best way for those who don’t have much in the way of resources to shop locally.

Tweet your recommendations, tips, tricks or questions for Kristen to @kristenvails with hashtag #keepitlocalok or #keepitlocaler

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Wage Up OKC


Wage Up OKC

The minimum wage in Oklahoma hasn't been raised in nearly a decade. The state of Oklahoma adopts the federal minimum wage as our state's minimum wage, so it is only adjusted when a bill is passed by the Senate and then signed into law by the President, and that doesn't happen very often. For example, the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour went into effect in 2009, but was passed by lawmakers back in 2007.

This is why Wage Up OKC stepped onto the scene. Wage Up OKC is an initiative that was started by a small group of eighth grade students at Westminster School in Oklahoma City in May of 2018. These students decided to find a way to help raise the minimum wage in Oklahoma after learning that 16.3% of Oklahomans were living below the poverty line. That may not look too bad at first glance, however, that 16.3% represents over 620,000 people! As they continued their research, their findings led them to believe the current minimum wage was too low to support a household. So, they came up with a plan of action and decided to encourage businesses to pay their employees a "living wage" of at least $12 per hour. Today, as high school students, Wage Up OKC has set a goal to partner with more than 200 Oklahoma businesses (they currently have 60 participating partners) over the next four years so more working families in Oklahoma can have access to jobs that will allow them to live above the poverty line.

If you would like to help Wage Up OKC achieve their goal or if you have questions, you can contact them at, visit or find them on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter.

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4 Q's with Katie & Melissa Morgan


4 Q's With Katie & Melissa Morgan

What’s your favorite part of your job?  
We have always viewed Katiebug’s as our canvas. We have endless opportunities to create, whether it’s by creating new menu items, coming up with crazy flavor combinations, designing our new space, events that we plan, or packaging our products. We love that we get to express our creativity through all aspect of our business. It is so fun for us!  

What do you love about being a small business owner in Oklahoma? 
Definitely all of the relationships that we have built through Katiebug’s. From businesses to customers we’ve made some amazing friends along the way. We are always taken back at how amazingly sweet our customers are and how far they come to see us. We feel a huge responsibility to them. They’ve made our business what it is today. 

What’s your go-to shaved ice flavor?
Two flavors that are staples for our family are raspberry and blackberry cobbler with sweet cream. I’m also a fan of the hibiscus lemonade.

What are you most excited about in the new location? 
We’re just so excited to finally get to share it with everyone! We renovated the whole thing ourselves. We designed and installed every detail from hand painting the floor to the kitchen cabinets. When we were designing it, we were constantly envisioning how we hoped our customers would enjoy the space. It’s so fun now to see it filled with all of our favorite people enjoying sweet treats. We’re also really excited about our new bakery items. Since, we have a full kitchen in the new space we are able to offer baked goods that we’ve been dying to add for years!

Katie & Melissa Morgan are the mother-daughter duo behind Katiebug's Sips & Sweets, a sweets shop which can be found at 7 NW 9th Street in Oklahoma City's historic Automobile Alley. Follow them on Instagram at @katiebugsokc. "4 Q's with Katie & Melissa Morgan" was originally featured in the Keep It Local OK Summer 2018 Zine. If you find yourself wanting more, please check out this slightly out of date episode of "OK Originals sponsored by Oklahoma's Credit Union" that we shot with Katie & Melissa about a year ago.


#keepitlocaler: Services


#Keepitlocaler: Services by Kristen Vails Gilpin

Living on a tight budget, my husband and I don’t utilize too many services on a regular basis. We clean the house, do the yardwork and try to troubleshoot and fix any problems that come up on our own. But, there is always something that comes up and we can’t always do everything. When it comes to services, I wouldn’t even think twice about selecting a local provider. Many industries are just naturally locally-owned. However, there are some services you may not think of a local provider for, or some you may not have needed yet. Here is a sample of services you can locally source and tips on how to "keep it localer."

Instead of Supercuts, Dry Bar, and Massage Envy, support your local hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and spas. I go to Well Beauty for hair and nails, and Dusty can be found at Hank’s and Lakeside Barber Shop most frequently.

Health & Wellness
Doctors, dentists, optometrists and specialists. These are rather hard to not keep local, but you’d be surprised what’s out there. As more and more “virtual visit” services come on board, local providers are utilizing technology for more accessible patient care. 

Skip Stanley Steamer, Roto-Rooter, Terminex and the like. Support your local contractors, plumbers, electricians, yard services, cleaning services and security providers. We had to have our roof replaced this year and Jenco Roofing was so patient with our pesky insurance process. We’ve used Acenetic for yard treatment, and Crown Plumbing was kind enough to tell us we’d be better off to do a project ourselves and gave us advice about how to do it. 

Mechanics, dealerships, detail and repair shops. Dealerships may represent a national brand, but many are locally-owned and operated. I happen to work for one, and my entire job is focused on giving back to the community. Do your homework to make sure your area dealerships are locally owned and invest in your community. Get your routine maintenance done by a trusted, locally owned dealer or mechanic.

Groomers, veterinarians. Instead of Petsmart, support your local vets and groomers. Check out my pets blog for recommendations

Dry cleaners, tailors, shoe repair. A great way to support these services is to just get your shoes and clothes repaired rather than just purchasing new ones. You can support a local service and go easy on the earth and your budget at the same time. I use Dee’s Boot Repair and Helena’s Tailoring.

Banks, Credit Unions, CPAs, Investment services. Local banks and credit unions have been working to update their technology to compete with major financial institutions. Anything you can do with Chase or Bank of America, you can do with a locally-owned institution. I actually took the free Financial Peace class offered by Oklahoma’s Credit Union which helped us become debt-free! I’ve enjoyed the events they sponsor, and the great things Citizen’s Bank of Edmond has been doing for the community.

I know I have missed so many categories, but these are the services that come to mind for our day-to-day and month-to-month lives. Build relationships, get to know your providers and keep supporting them. With technology distancing us from interacting with people and a retail climate that is difficult to thrive in, services are so important to keep locally-owned. 

Services 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?
Services go hand-in hand. Get things fixed, don’t buy new and enjoy the experiences offered by local service providers.

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?
Local services providers are much more inclined to be flexible on price for someone who may be in need. Many travel as well! 

Tweet your recommendations, tips, tricks or questions for Kristen to @kristenvails with hashtag #keepitlocalok or #keepitlocaler