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Fair store made by Oklahomans for Oklahomans
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has built a store within a state fairgrounds building to funnel sales of dozens of Oklahoma products through a common point.
The Made in Oklahoma shop will open Sept. 14 with the start of the annual State Fair. Business owners are already reserving space and planning shelf displays in the 3,600 square feet, said Made in Oklahoma program Director Jamey Allen.
The store is a collaborative effort between the department and State Fair Park management. Allen praised the park’s leadership for giving up so much space and allowing the department to build a full building façade within the MAPS 3-funded Bennett Event Center.
The department had a presence in a smaller fair park building over the years. Recent park-wide renovations funded through a taxpayer-approved 1-percent sales tax provided the opportunity to expand the concept, State Fair Vice President Gina Burchfiel said. The $59 million, 279,000-square-foot building is on the site of the former Travel and Transportation Building on the east side of State Fair Park.
“We are thrilled that the citizens of Oklahoma City saw fit to do all the MAPS 3 projects,”
she said. “When you look at the partnership between the fair and the Department of Agriculture, we’re synchronous with supporting Oklahoma companies, particularly those with an agricultural slant. It’s a natural fit all around.”
The state Department of Agriculture’s Made in Oklahoma program works with local agribusinesses at local and national levels to help promote retail sales via marketing that highlights availability and quality of products. Promotional methods revolve around cooperative partnerships to arrange trade shows and some advertising. Participants agree to allow visits by department representatives to verify compliance with program guidelines.
The related Made In Oklahoma Coalition – with a capital I in the middle – focuses on matching public and private funds for more expensive campaign elements such as point-of-sale materials, billboards, advertisements, recipes and the like. The coalition also uses the MIO branding label.
Allen said that when Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese first visited the space at Fair Park, he was bothered by the inability of consumers to immediately buy promoted products – local companies were getting minimal public exposure.
This year the department arranged more of a consignment agreement that allows businesses to stock products for sale through the weeklong event and settle leftovers and products later. A small percentage of sales will go to the fair park. The department has arranged to staff three cash registers.
“This year, I feel this is a world-class branded program store,” she said.