A project long in the making comes into being. The Shoppes on Peoria, north of the Gateway Market at Pine and North Peoria, will have a grand opening Saturday.
Six businesses have opened there this year with more to come. One of them is the Tropical Smoothie Café.
Tim Smallwood is the owner of the café, his second in Tulsa. The first location is in South Tulsa, at the Tulsa Hills shopping center.
The North Tulsa store is only about two months old. He says part of the motivation for selecting the new location was his memory of growing up in the area.
“I remember when North Tulsa had everything anywhere else had,” he said. “Great shopping, great movie theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants, grocery stores; everything … that any neighborhood or community would have, we had it back then.”
He says some friends and family reacted skeptically to the plan to open a North Tulsa store. But he says it’s not as though people in the area have stop demanding things like shopping and grocery stores.
“What a lot of people seem to forget,” he said, “those that aren’t rich, like me and everyone else, we’re consumers. We’re consumers, we’re going to shop and buy what we need to buy, and why not have someplace in the community that’s close enough, instead of having to go way south.”
Smallwood isn’t the only entrepreneur making this calculation.
Arthenia Schumpert is the owner of Sole Mates Shoe Boutique. It’s just next door to the Smoothie café, and features a wide variety of women’s shoes, plus some other accessories and apparel.
It’s been open for about a month and a half, but that’s after moving from a location at Archer and Greenwood downtown that was a few years old.
She says rather than being a highly risky decision, locating in North Tulsa makes good business sense, “because the closest retail store, with this type of a variety … is currently anywhere from 10 to 15 miles away. So it keeps people close to home. It also gives them the opportunity to buy items that they don’t see in Tulsa at all, even in the malls, the larger malls and things of that nature.”
Schumpert is one of the business owners who came to the Shoppes on Peoria through the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation, which supports small business development by providing and supporting non-traditional loans.
Several of the owners in this development came to the area through the corporation. The goal has been to attract local business owners who will in turn hire locals.
But it’s not just the tenants that have benefitted from the program. David Collins is the owner of the Phoenix Group Construction Company.
“My company actually built the interior and exterior of (the Shoppes),” he said. “We also did the masonry work, we did the concrete, we practically built this entire building.”
He says starting this company was a dream he first had 10 years ago—right down to coming up with the name, the Phoenix Group.
Now, his company is less than two years old, and it’s already worked on projects from the new Health Department location on North Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to Broken Arrow High School, and numerous QuikTrips. All of his employees live north of Pine.
“For years, we’d see things being built in our community, and never had a part in,” he said. “Now, every time you see something in North Tulsa, the Phoenix Group is on it.”
He has ambitious goals for his company. And as groups like the North Tulsa Economic Development Initiative turn their attention to 36th Street North and North Peoria and the soon-to-be finalized small area plan for that neighborhood, he’ll likely have more projects, like the Shoppes on Peoria, to work on in the near future.