Posts Tagged ‘business’

A Full Weekend in Stillwater

Downtown Artwork

You didn’t have to look far to find something fun to do in Stillwater this weekend.

Tanner and I kicked it off by attending Eskimo Joe’s 35th Anniversary T-Shirt unveiling party.  Eskimo Joe’s mascots Joe and Buffy arrived in a limo to start the party, and Val Joe Gladden provided the musical entertainment.  For restaurant patrons, there was free cake and a chance to win a Kicker iKick and $100 gift card.  Even though they were paying me to be there to shoot video, I had a great time.  I’m looking forward to editing that video later this week!

The Remember the 10 Run was held early Saturday morning, and from what I heard, it was very well attended.  My friend Clint James turned in his personal best time at the run, and I heard that OSU President Burns Hargis was an also-ran.  The run is a great way to memorialize the 10 men – coaching staff, players, and broadcasters of the OSU men’s basketball team – who died in a plane crash on January 27, 2001.  Money raised from the run goes to support services on campus like grief counseling, and helps keep those services free to students.

After the run, Tanner and I joined the victorious Clint and his wife, Molly, as well as Jackie and Nick at ye olde IHOP for Clint’s birthday breakfast.  In honor of Clint’s running a 5K, Nick decided he would “eat a 5K” and ordered the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Maple Syrup.  I think he went home to slip into a sugar coma after that.  Having chosen an omelet, I was in great shape for exploring the Stillwater Arts Festival.

Stillwater Shopper

Despite the steady rain, turnout for the Arts Festival was really good.  My first stop was 1st Dibs on Main, a new resale furniture and art/photography market. About two weeks ago, owner Jeannie Dibble told me that she wanted to create a place close to downtown for artists, photographers and even farmers to come every weekend to sell their goods.  This weekend was Dibble’s first crack at her outdoor market, and unfortunately the rain kept the affair from being terribly successful.  On the positive side, Dibble said she had a lot of foot traffic through the store thanks to the Art Festival, and many people seemed interested in coming to the market in the future.

1st Dibs on Main

After visiting Dibble’s store, I walked down two blocks to the Arts Festival.  There were approximately 50 vendors, all protected from the elements by white tents set up in the middle of Main Street.  Vendors were selling a bit of everything – jewelry, clothing, paintings, framed photography, and even outdoor lawn decorations.  The first tent I walked into belonged to Jason Wallace, a Stillwater photographer I happen to follow via his blog.  In person, Wallace is a  nice guy who seems very passionate about his photography.  He includes the geographic coordinates of all his photos with the print, so you could go visit the place in person.  He’s a talented guy, and from what I understand, he may be helping Dibble teach photography classes at her store soon.

My next stop wasn’t so happy.  I walked in to Vault Video, a local rental place where you could not only find obscure and cult films, but also CDs from local musicians, and even watch movies or catch a rock show.  The place has loads of personality.  Sadly, Dave Christopher and his wife, Cindy, are closing the store.  Dave told me that he just can’t compete with the two other video rental places AND services such as Netflix.  He did say that he plans to stick around Stillwater, and when I asked if there was a new business venture in the works, Cindy smiled and said, “Maybe.”  The store will officially close its doors around May 10, so make sure you stop by before then to wish them luck and pick up some rare movies on the cheap.  While I was there, I paid my late fees on The Room and then bought the movie for Tanner.

Vault Video

Two doors down from Vault, another downtown business is going out.  MK Photography, which has been downtown for six years, is closing its doors and moving to Salida, CO.  Owners Mike & Karen Campbell said they are moving in order to be closer to their children in Colorado Springs, and Mike has taken a job teaching at a local junior college.  He did say that they planned on starting another portrait photography business in their new hometown. The Campbells are selling lots of old photography equipment, backgrounds, computer equipment and furniture so they don’t have to move it.  I didn’t see anything I wanted, but if you’re looking for something specific, it might be worth giving them a call.

A few tents later, I found another Oklahoma photographer I like – Ruby Loftin.  She’s from Broken Arrow and specializes in fine art photography.  Check her out, if that’s your thing.

Here’s a positive downtown business story – J.W. Lee’s Furniture has opened another business, Grand Finale, for its interior decorating services.  Marci, the girl running the place Saturday, told me they opened about a month ago.  Grand Finale sells custom shades, window treatments and other textiles, as well as frames, pottery, and the like; things you would expect to find at such a place.  J.W. Lee’s has been downtown for quite some time, so I have high hopes that this business will be here for a while.

Grand Finale

Flourishes is another relatively new business downtown.  They sell fresh flower arrangements, gifts, and Godiva chocolate. The store seemed quite busy, so I didn’t talk to any of the sales people.

Flourishes

But I did make a startling discovery at Flourishes:

Key Art Imposters!

And here I thought I had the Key Art & Accessory market in Stillwater locked down!

Then I found an artist after my own heart, Ed Bartoszek.  He’s from Mission, KS, and I like his style – bright colors, simple illustrations, clean lines – very pop art.  I would’ve bought several pieces, but I’m broke.  So, there’s a birthday/Christmas present idea for someone. His art would also be great for kids’ rooms, classrooms, and anywhere you want people to just feel happy!

Ed’s tent was set up across from the Project Gallery, which never seems to be open.  This time, however, I was in luck.  The exhibit on display was a set of photographic silk screens by Benjamin Sperry, called The Feeling in Your Chest.  The gallery isn’t very big, so after I looked at the photos, I spoke with Hayley Nichols, the gallery’s co-proprietor.  Nichols and her partner are both senior art majors at OSU, and they’ve been funding this project on donations, a few sales, and mostly their own money.  Nichols said that when Sperry’s exhibit closes on April 30, it may well be the gallery’s closing, too.  As of yet, Nichols hasn’t been able to find another artist to come in after Sperry.  I really hope that they are able to find someone to come exhibit, or that there could be a fundraiser for the gallery.  It’s a unique venue and it’s the only such place in Stillwater.  If you’re interested in checking it out, there will be an exhibit closing party for Sperry’s work on April 30 at the Project Gallery.  It may well be your last opportunity.

Finally, another downtown business will be throwing a party April 22 at 6 p.m..  Morgan Interior Accents (seen here on Zach Nash’s blog) will be hosting a grand opening party in their new showroom and workspace.  Morgan Robinson is an OSU Alum, and he’s done some amazing work with furniture and sculpture.  This is another business that I really hope takes off.

After I had exhausted the Arts Festival, I went back to the house to pick up Tanner so we could meet up with family for the Orange & White spring scrimmage.  My dad came up from Noble to watch the game, and Nick’s dad drove up from Flower Mound to hang out with us, too.  The rain never did let up, but we stayed for just over half the scrimmage until we decided to head back to Nick’s apartment for beer and Hideaway pizza.  Again, the turnout for this event was really good considering the yucky weather.

iPhone photo of the Orange & White game

I had intended to catch the last day of the Friends of the Library book sale on Sunday, but got sidetracked working on my demo reel and blog instead.  I’m sure there were plenty of other events in town that I would’ve enjoyed checking out, including the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, but I just ran out of time.  This week is also shaping up to be a busy one, so hopefully next weekend ends up being just as enjoyable.

19

04 2010

Tulsa Blogger Meetup

I happened upon a post from TashaDoesTulsa last week inviting all bloggers in the Tulsa “area” to come meet up at the Blue Dome Diner tomorrow evening. I was debating about going, but Mikey finally convinced me during a long distance Mario Kart & Skype session last Sunday.  I love the Blue Dome district, and I can’t pass up an opportunity to see a few acquaintances and support Mikey & The Tulsa Project.  So, with that settled, I had to figure out how I was going to promote my blog, especially considering that I STILL don’t have my business cards printed.  Solution: Space Bar Business Cards.

I’ve been at a loss for what to do with some of the oddly shaped space bars I have, and over a glass of wine, it hit me.  I’ll paint the info I would’ve put on a business card on the space bar, and hand it out to anyone who asks for a card or seems interested in my art.  Of course, I’ll bring the purse along as a sure-fire conversation starter.

What I didn’t think through until after the bottle of wine was finished was… where are people going to put these “business cards”? I don’t know.  I’m only making 10 of them just in case people look at me like I’m a crazy lady (that would probably happen anyway). But I’m half-way done with this half-thought-out idea and there’s no turning back now.

24

03 2010

Downtown!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about revitalization projects and the rebirth of downtown city centers.  I’ve had the pleasure of visiting downtown Norman, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City all within the past couple of weeks and, quite honestly, it’s inspiring.  I love to see  old buildings being put to new uses as co-working spaces, renovated dining and retail facilities, and art galleries.  The blend between the older architectural styles and the newer, modern-contemporary design aesthetic is a complete rejection of the architecture of the suburban sprawl.  Downtown facilities tend to do more with less space, and this seems to encourage a more personal shopping experience for the consumer.

So why am I on about growing downtown areas? Because it seems to be happening everywhere but Stillwater. Tulsa has seen tremendous growth in its Downtown, Brookside, and Blue Dome Districts.  Thanks in large part to MAPS, Oklahoma City has turned Bricktown, Downtown, the Plaza District and 23rd Street into areas that you don’t mind being in after dark. Finally, new businesses seem to be opening every week in Old Norman.  On a recent visit there, my cousin showed me where her new photography studio would be located at 123 Main St., in between a brand new McNellie’s tavern and the relocated Guestroom Records.

Stillwater can’t seem to fill up those empty downtown buildings.  In the past year, two brand new businesses have opened and one business has relocated to the downtown area.  We also had an art gallery come in, but it never seems to be open (even during its posted business hours). If you drive down Main St. in Stillwater, you will see a number of buildings for sale or lease, several thrift stores and a few seldom-open antique shops overrun with junk.  Sure, there are a few places downtown that a person like myself would actually want to go.  But it will take more than a bar and a coffee shop to get people to come back to the downtown area.

You might wonder why any of this is important, anyway.  Well, the status of a city’s downtown district can be very telling of the overall health of the local economy.  When downtown is failing, chances are the rest of the city isn’t doing so hot, either.  Downtown retailers are more likely to be locally owned and operated, and thus will contribute more to the local economy.  Finally, I believe that a flourishing downtown district encourages citizens to shop and work locally.

I believe Stillwater can and should have its own downtown renaissance.  I’m not at a point in my life where I can open a business, but I will do my part by shopping downtown as much as possible and encouraging others to do the same.  I also plan to provide as much news about downtown businesses as possible on my blog.  Hopefully, I’ll be documenting the growth of downtown Stillwater until it’s just as inspiring as other downtowns.

The above image was sourced from Creative Commons.

16

03 2010