Back to school shopping downtown? Not yet.
Retail in downtown Tulsa needs to be a priority.
Starting with Jenks and Union this week, and Tulsa Public Schools next week, it's time for the kids to head back to class. Stores such as Target and Wal-Mart will be flooded with parents loading up on those last-minute back-to-school supplies. Don’t forget the two boxes of tissue. Other retailers such as Gap and Kohl' s are coming off a busy tax-free weekend when parents and kids spent some great quality time arguing about which outfits are and aren’t appropriate for school. That is unless the kids go to a school where uniforms are required. In which case, the kids are racking their brains trying to figure out some way to customize their threads. Not enough to violate the dress code, just enough to stand out a little bit. There really is nothing quite as fun as shopping for clothes with your parents. But one thing that definitely won’t be happening over the next couple of weeks is this: No one will be purchasing any of these items in downtown Tulsa.
There are no general retailers that provide these items. Sure, you can get some shirts here and there. And there are a couple of office supply stores. But these are not the places that pop into the minds of average parents and kids when looking for No. 2 pencils and Elmer’s glue. I talked last week about the need for a grocery store downtown. If we are able to fill that void, some of these problems will be alleviated. Not the clothing problem, of course, but some. So the grocery store is step No. 1. This has to be the next priority. We aren't quite where we need to be as far as restaurants go, but we are far better off than in the case of retailers. Here’s a little exercise: Try to name five retail locations in downtown. Not very easy, is it?
People of a certain age talk all the time about shopping at Renberg’s and Seidenbach’s back in the day. There are images of droves of shoppers, bags in hand, shuffling up and down the one-way streets. But those days are gone and have been for some time. I am certainly not advocating a Wal-Mart Supercenter or anything of that ilk in downtown. We have more than enough already. But in a few years, when it’s time to buy the school supplies again, wouldn’t it be nice if you could get some dinner, go shopping, pick up the groceries and do it all downtown? I think it would.