How to shop local — and why it matters
Shopping at Tulsa businesses benefits us all, even beyond the substantial sales tax perks.
With holiday shopping on the minds of many Tulsa-area residents, there are plenty of shops and restaurants in the metro area that have exactly what customers need for everyone on their list.
Shopping at local businesses also benefits the city as a whole.
“When you shop locally, you know the merchants are remitting sales tax to the city,” says Mike Kier, finance director for the City of Tulsa. “Sales tax is our largest single source of funding for our general fund. Two-thirds of the general fund expenses are paid for by sales tax. That’s police, fire, streets, parks — the primary government services people rely on.”
According to Kier, 9.5 percent of all retail sales take place on the internet, and local sales tax growth is having a hard time catching up with inflation. This summer, The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states like Oklahoma to require all businesses to collect the tax from Oklahoma customers. States will be working to establish mechanisms to collect the taxes, but it will take years to more fully collect from all these businesses. Only when this is fully in place will the tax remittance responsibility be fully equalized among businesses.
“What’s more important to me than finances is what Tulsa represents,” Kier says. “For all the years I’ve lived in Tulsa, there are some wonderful people here. There are some nifty places to shop.”
Angelene Wright, owner of Ida Red, started out as a store manager when the shop first opened in 2008 on Brookside at 3336 S. Peoria Ave.
“As a student at the University of Tulsa, I felt really passionate about Oklahoma and Tulsa,” Wright says. “There weren’t any cool Tulsa T-shirts or merchandise at the time,” so she made her own for the store. “I just kept making Tulsa and Oklahoma items, and I found such joy in it.”
Last year, a second Ida Red location opened downtown in the Tulsa Arts District at 208-A N. Main St.
“People shopping local, it’s everything,” Wright says. “Owning a local business is really hard. I think I speak for a lot of local businesses when I say we’re all kind of living on the edge. We depend on people coming in and thinking about us when they’re shopping. A $20 purchase means the world to us. It helps support jobs and the local makers we get our merchandise from.”
Jason Decker turned his love of ice cream into Rose Rock Microcreamery, which opened in 2017 in the Boxyard at 502 E. Third St., Unit 35. As a business owner, he also shops locally as much as he can.
“We try to source our ingredients locally,” Decker says. “It’s the multiplier effect on your dollars. We spend a dollar at Endicott Farms on blueberries, they spend a dollar somewhere else in the area. It benefits the local community, contributes to the local sales tax and creates jobs locally.”
Ultimately, shopping at local businesses gives you something you can’t get with an online purchase, says Kathy Duck, executive director of small business at the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
“When you shop at a small local business, whether it’s retail or a restaurant or a service, they’re more flexible to what the consumer needs,” Duck says. “They provide the one-on-one attention. You get better service, and you get more unique products. These are real innovators in the community.
“They have this real passion for their community and a pride in Tulsa. Tulsa is talked about with a lot of pride.”