Buck Atom's sells the special charm of Route 66
The unique gift shop, owned by Mary Beth Babcock, harnesses the power of nostalgia.
Mary Beth Babcock in her unique Tulsa gift shop, located on historic Route 66.
Buck Atom ain’t from around here. He’s a cowboy who rode the rodeo circuit up and down Route 66, got picked up by a spaceship and traveled to the ether. When he came back to Earth, he landed at what is now his namesake shop and is trying to help revitalize Route 66.
At least, that’s the backstory Mary Beth Babcock imagined for her shop mascot when she opened Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios June 1.
Buck was just an idea four years ago, when Babcock still owned Dwelling Spaces. She asked local artist Jeremy Luther to design a space cowboy, and as the years progressed, she felt it was time for her to open a new curio shop, with Buck as the spokesman. His likeness now finds a home on souvenir items like T-shirts, magnets, coffee cups and stickers, which can all be purchased at the 350-square-foot gift shop along the Mother Road.
“I wanted to be near the Meadow Gold sign and couldn’t imagine being in a better place,” Babcock says of the of the 1950s Pemco gas station where the shop resides. Ninety percent of her stock comes from Oklahoma artists, makers and craftsmen. All of it celebrates Tulsa, Oklahoma or Route 66. She also has a selection of vintage tchotchkes and knickknacks — an ode to the “curio” part of the business.
Since opening, Babcock has welcomed travelers from numerous states and China, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Canada. Those making a stop can peruse the items inside and sit at picnic tables under the former gas station’s awning. Recently, the Mountain Goodness food truck signed a lease to operate in the shop’s parking lot. Its menu features healthy lunch options.
With Babcock’s love of murals, one had to be incorporated into the outdoor space. Clean Hands designed it to represent Tulsa and Route 66, with a nod to Buck’s galactic past.
Babcock says fate brought her to this spot along the historic highway, and she is embracing it. “I want to celebrate the history, but also create the future of Route 66,” she says.
Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios
1347 E. 11th St. | buckatomson66.com