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October 19, 2021, 12:38:46 am
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Author Topic: Downtown Retail Corridor  (Read 1657 times)
TheArtist
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« on: July 14, 2021, 08:42:45 am »

As many of you may know, we aka DECOPOLIS tried to be a part of a budding retail corridor in the Deco District in Downtown.  When we opened our first shop downtown there were about 5 or 6 other shops in the area. Lots of buzz pertaining to the "pop-up" shops during the holiday seasons, a cry by the city and downtown stakeholders to encourage and promote downtown retail.

However this did not happen.

I personally attempted to encourage some, minimum zoning to encourage the development of retail corridors in downtown. To no avail. Got serious pushback from many property owners. 

Then watched as those property owners who "said" they wanted retail in their areas, proceed to put in low traffic businesses that would harm retail corridor development in some of the potential retail areas. Even booting out some retail shops to put in non retail type businesses! And also developments in potential retail corridors that were not retail friendly. (architecture firms, banks, computer coding businesses, residential, etc. on the sidewalk are not friendly to retail businesses fyi). 

Quick note:  Strong, competitive Retail Corridor = approx. 6 blocks retail, both sides of the street, aka retail facing retail.   Usual mix, whether Mall or "Main Street" = approx 70% shops - 15-25% restaurant - rest "services". 


Our downtown will continue to look dead most of the time, except for events and special occasions, unless there is a strong retail/dining corridor.

Having said that, not all cities have the Business District/Skyscraper core of their cities contain vibrant shopping corridors.  Unless you have been to say London, Paris, or even NYC and explored, you may not believe it when I say that there are plenty of areas that are quite quiet during different parts of the day. I remember my shock of visiting Wall Street in NYC for the first time, in the evening, and only seeing one other person walk past in the distance. No shops or restaurants open. Literally crickets. During the day, hopping. Evenings, dead as downtown Tulsa lol. And there were plenty of other areas that were quiet neighborhood type places also.  BUT at that same time, Times Square or China Town, you could barely move through the crowds.

So it may very well be that our downtown core becomes just a quiet, business/neighborhood area. Busy a bit in the mornings and during lunch time, or during a special event, but quiet the rest of the time.  AND then areas nearby like the Pearl District, 11th Street/Route 66, Cherry Street, etc. become the hopping, vibrant, life of the city. Though even these areas have challenges on becoming large enough and dense enough with the right scale and mix of retail/restaurant/services to be competitive enough for retail to thrive, to become real "main streets".

The Arts District..... has potential and they are giving it a lot of focus and attention, multiple attractions.... but again not the right scale, density and mix of retail to allow what retail goes in to thrive and be competitive with other areas. Believe it or not, many of us with retail shops don't want to merely "make it" or "struggle and survive" we want to grow and thrive!

Another note.... our downtown spot cost us more than double that of our new 11th street location.  And we are seeing easily double the sales.  I am no mathematician but.... One can only "believe in the promise of downtown" for so long before ya got to get on down the road.


I believed in downtown. I wanted to make it work, and was willing to work harder to make my business work there than any peers at say Tulsa Hills, the Mall or elsewhere. BUT one can only do that for so long. 

I believed it when folks at the city and the property owners downtown said they wanted to see retail thrive downtown..... But watched as they basically lied, for they would then proceed to do things that hurt the potential for downtown retail.  But that was my fault for believing their lies, or what in many cases it likely was, stupidity, not understanding what retail really needs to succeed and their refusal to understand that. 

Lesson learned!  LOVE where I am at now and feel so thankful that we are thriving! 

Location, location, location.

But even where I am at now... IF we get the right mix of more retail/restaurant in the area. We will do even better.  If not.... we will move and hopefully next time be able to buy and build enough that we can control enough property to make a shopping/destination of scale of our own without relying on other property owners to "do the right thing".
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"When you only have two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other."-Chinese proverb. "Arts a staple. Like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter. Those who think it is a luxury have only a fragment of a mind. Mans spirit grows hungry for art in the same way h
ComeOnBenjals
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2021, 01:40:48 pm »

Was sad to see the downtown Decopolis close when it did. Agree with what you said about downtown... have you seen vastly increased foot traffic at your new location?

Walking through the financial district of NYC at night was surprising to me as well... weren't even that many places to grab food!
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TheArtist
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2021, 07:53:49 pm »

Was sad to see the downtown Decopolis close when it did. Agree with what you said about downtown... have you seen vastly increased foot traffic at your new location?

Walking through the financial district of NYC at night was surprising to me as well... weren't even that many places to grab food!

Foot traffic is way better, and people seem to really enjoy the location.  I like it because its both pedestrian friendly and auto friendly.
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"When you only have two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other."-Chinese proverb. "Arts a staple. Like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter. Those who think it is a luxury have only a fragment of a mind. Mans spirit grows hungry for art in the same way h
tulsabug
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2021, 07:09:07 am »

But even where I am at now... IF we get the right mix of more retail/restaurant in the area. We will do even better.  If not.... we will move and hopefully next time be able to buy and build enough that we can control enough property to make a shopping/destination of scale of our own without relying on other property owners to "do the right thing".

One way to fix a lot of this is small business owners need to buy their property. Too many commercial buildings in this town are owned by rich families that live out of town who couldn't give two poops about Tulsa. If there is one thing I preach to every small business owner I know is "buy your building". While I think the city helping with neon signs is great I would really like to see them offer tax breaks and other incentives, especially working hand in hand with the SBA and local banks, to give small business folks a path to building ownership.
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