A city's downtown business district is often considered the heart of the community. In Oklahoma, where municipalities are almost fully dependent on sales tax revenue for general operations, a healthy downtown can be paramount to a healthy economy.
If City officials and local businesses have their way, Sand Springs will soon be one of the premier downtowns in the State to spend the weekend shopping and sightseeing.
In the recently-approved Sand Springs 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the City identified having an assorted variety of downtown restaurants, businesses, and services as vital to creating a sense of place within a community. The plan sets a goal of enhancing the downtown area as one of the primary focal points of the community.
In the past, downtown Sand Springs has struggled with attracting both patrons and quality business establishments. Vice-Mayor Beau Wilson attributes the lack of customers to lack of quality retail, the curb appeal of many older buildings, and a failure to market downtown as a destination for Sand Springs. He also says that this is beginning to change.
"Downtown has a number of thriving boutiques and antique shops," says Wilson. "We are beginning to see citizens reinvest in our historic downtown." Beau Wilson Insurance opened in the historic Boone-Rose Building at 17 East 2nd Street this past November. The building was constructed in 1924.
"When I was looking to relocate my business to Sand Springs, there was no other location but downtown in my opinion. My wife, business partners and I were fully committed to finding a location in downtown...and it has been an honor to restore and revitalize a piece of our town's history."
Just two doors down from Wilson, Chris and Julie Bedokis opened Dog and Duck Antiques at 21 East 2nd Street on Memorial Day weekend. The couple already had a small booth at the Vintage Stables on Main Street but decided to open their own facility. The store didn't open with much fanfare initially, and is tentatively planning on a Grand Opening event later this year.
Another newcomer to the downtown area is YellowHouse Market & Boutique. Lisa and Mike Miller first opened YellowHouse at the Livi Lee's Shopping Center in October, but just nine months later they're already planning on relocating to a larger facility in the downtown business district.
The new YellowHouse location will be at 122 North Main Street in the former Chastain's Department Store building. "We did buy a new building. It's a larger space. It's going to help us reach Sand Springs with more clothes, more goodies, and lots of fun," said Lisa Miller in a Facebook Live announcement. The Millers plan to stay open in their current location until the new building's remodel is complete.
The Chastain's building, constructed in 1931, has been owned and operated by Laurie Joslin for the past two decades. At one point she owned the Kindred Spirits novelty shop in the front and The Back Porch Cafe in the back. The Back Porch Cafe acquired a front porch after Joslin purchased the building next door and relocated the diner. She rebranded as The Lunch Box, then rebranded again as Chastain's Casual Cafe and Catering. Eventually the buildings were separated and Joslin opened DejaVu Decor while the old restaurant building was purchased by Boomarang Cafe.
Joslin and her husband, Mark, have plans to relocate their business to The Antique Depot in Skiatook, but will still reside in Sand Springs. They plan on featuring their house in the 39th Annual Pilot Club Parade of Homes later this year.
Chip and Annette Stacy opened Stacys' Resale Shop at 12 East 2nd Street in September of 2016 and recently expanded to their neighboring storefront for a music and guitar shop. The store boasts a large array of modern and classic comic books, records, 8-track cassettes, CDs, jewelry, knives, home decor, furniture, and more.
The shop is filled with dozens of classic Les Pauls, German fiddles, and other unique instruments and collectibles. Looking up at the walls is like a trip through a museum. Original Black Sabbath, Jim Morrison, Joan Jett, Elvis, Willie Nelson, and other vinyl records wallpaper the store.
Troy and Stephanie Cleveland opened The Vintage Stables on Main in 2016 and performed one of the most notable restorations in recent years. The bright red barnstyle building could easily serve as a stop sign, telling drivers to pull over and shop.
It's not all shopping in downtown, either. After the passing of Reverend Terry Scott in October, Future Vision Ministries closed their office on the Triangle and sold to local builder William Bell. Bell recently showcased a house in the Tulsa Parade of Homes and is still renovating his new studio. The front of the building pays homage to its prior resident with a quote from Scott.
Unfortunately, not all classic buildings can be saved. In April of 2012, a fire devastated a historic building housing the Sand Springs Beauty College and Covington Credit. The skeleton remained until 2016 when it was demolished by the Sand Springs Home and construction began on a new retail/office building.
"The City has made tremendous strides in the past few years to give downtown its identity and purpose," says Wilson. "Under the excellent leadership of City Manager Elizabeth Gray and her staff, we will continue to see downtown prosper."
"As a city, we have some of the most talented employees. Many of whom donate their own time and particular talent and skill-sets to make Sand Springs better. Take the Triangle for example. Jeff Edwards and Grant Gerondale and the entire Parks Department took on that project making it what it is today...it truly is our employees who make the difference and will be the engine behind fueling the growth of downtown."
"I can remember a day when I was a kid when downtown seemed like a ghost town. Especially when all of the growth and emphasis was to the south of Sand Springs...Urban renewal and suburban sprawl were the catch phrases of the day. Rather than restore old buildings, it was easier to tear down and build something new, or reface old buildings with a new modern facade, losing that building's history entirely."
As to the future, Wilson says that the current City Council is committed to saving Sand Springs history. He would like to see downtown business owners take a more active role in beautifying their buildings, with further investment by both the city and its businesses.
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