Micro-retail big on the OKC horizon

Published Friday, July 7, 2017 8:00 am
by Kateleigh Mills

OKLAHOMA CITY – The city could see a growing number of micro-retailers popping up, which developers say is part of a national trend of going small.

Developer Steve Mason said one type of micro-retail is a large space, about 5,000 square feet, that rents to five or six small businesses at a time. Another type of micro-retail is when someone rents out a space of 300 to 600 square feet, providing lower overhead.

“It’s a uniformed concept nationwide,” Mason said. “It is a way to test the water to see if people like your product.”

Some of the micro-retailers are individually owned, such as Perch’d, at 14 NW Ninth St., or Collected Thread, at 1705A NW 16th St. in the Plaza District. Mason said the trend for retailers going smaller is not a brand-new concept and that the trend has done well in larger cities, such as New York City and Los Angeles.

He said the cousin to micro-retail is pop-up shops, which the city has tried out during the Christmas season.

“It’s affordable,” Mason said. “You’re going after a group of people who have never had a store before.”

Perch’d owner Sunshine Gadbury brought what she learned about modern design from her days at Dwell magazine. She decided starting small would be the best choice since she didn’t know how residents would respond to modern design.

At Dwell, she covered many businesses that used shipping containers as space and thought she could bring the concept here, so she got in contact with Mason, who owns her business’s container.

“When I moved here about 7 years ago I wanted to do something new and different,” Gadbury said. “I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done here before.”

After Gadbury pitched the idea to Mason, they agreed that Perch’d would be the first container-concept business in Oklahoma City.

Although she has seen a positive response from residents since opening four years ago, she said it has been difficult to shift the local perspective of what modern design is.

She said people here tend to think modern design is Ikea or West Elm, but that there are a lot of independent designers who have their own companies.

“A lot of people here don’t get out of the city, so they don’t know a lot of these creative ideas out there that could be done here,” Gadbury said.

David Wanzer is the developer for the Main Street Arcade and buildings in Film Row. He said the Arcade has shotgun spaces on the ground floor, which he considers micro-retail.

“We are programming one space in the Arcade that will be 550 square feet,” Wanzer said.

He said he hasn’t had much experience with micro-retail to determine whether the spaces are easier to sell than the larger spaces. He said the micro concept will happen at the Hudson Street Market project.

“We’re excited because it is basically a cluster of micro-retail and micro-restaurants,” Wanzer said.

He said micro-retailers often add flavor and diversity to the market, which can attract people to live in the area.

“The trend has been growth in other markets so you could expect it to happen here,” Wanzer said.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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