Interview with Chamber's retail guru Tammy Fate: "Small businesses make up the fabric of our community"

Published Tuesday, December 8, 2020
by Marcus Elwell

Tammy Fate is the senior manager of retail development and recruitment for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. For the past six and a half years, Fate has led the Chambers efforts to recruit new-to-market destination retail to the metro and to help grow the local retail scene.

Oklahoma City government is funded by sales tax making retail growth critical to providing core city services like police, fire and street repair.

We recently sat down with Fate to discuss the Chamber’s Stand Tall, Shop Small for OKC campaign, some great holiday activities now open and more.   

VeloCityOKC: The Chamber recently relaunched its Stand Tall, Shop Small campaign to encourage people to support local businesses this holiday season. With the effects of the pandemic hitting retail so hard I imagine supporting local businesses is more important than ever.

Fate: The goal behind the Stand Tall, Shop Small campaign is to bring awareness to the small businesses that make up the fabric of our community. This year, they’ve had massive challenges with the pandemic. We want to help keep those local businesses at the front of people’s mind when they are shopping this year. These unique, charming little districts help shape the identity of our city. This holiday season we encourage everyone to invest in the businesses who tirelessly work to create magical experiences and make our city wonderful every day.  OKC is blessed with an array of local retail options.

And people can still support local retail without physically going to the stores or restaurants right?

Absolutely, you can buy gift cards and many of them are offering online shipping and delivery. Small businesses have had to get creative fast this year and adapt to a new norm. Together, many of them have created co-marketing opportunities and figured out ways to bring a concierge-type service to you as the consumer. It's time for us to lean in and help support them in their creative and innovative efforts during this challenging time.

As you said, retail has been hit as hard as any industry by the pandemic. What have you seen out of the OKC retail community this past year?

Many retailers have capitalized on the outdoor spaces to help provide a safer environment. The pop-up shops in Midtown are a good example. Traditionally they’ve used domes but this year they're doing tents. They’ll also have live music, a Christmas tree, hot chocolate and the tree farm.

Chisholm Creek is doing the same thing and they have an awesome tree exhibit with 32 corporate companies participating in the festival of trees. They've decked out the whole development for the holidays, so it is magical. Bundle up, take the family and go and enjoy a different way of looking at things. This past weekend they sold 400 Christmas trees. I was there last week decorating the Chamber’s tree and I felt like I was on a cast for a Hallmark movie. Everything about it was just so special.

I think those are the things people need, especially in a pandemic. We get so caught up in ordering online, you get home and you get a package on your door. We have missed out on connectivity. Retailers who offer a safe, outdoor experiential concept is a game-changer.

As challenging as the pandemic has been for retail, there has still been good news in Oklahoma City. Fill us in on some of those.

We continue to see positive movement in our market. Provision Concepts recently opened their fabulous new restaurant Chicken Foot located at Chisholm Creek. NorthPark Mall recently added a new candle shop along with Bachle’s. Bachle’s is packed with gift ideas, fireplaces and outdoor furniture. Bachle’s has tripled sales since moving to Northpark Mall last month.

Hal Smith Group opened Jimmy B's, a new concept on Broadway by Midtown and Automobile Alley. You're seeing a lot of things shifts in the market. Retailers have been able to revamp concepts that were a little bit tired. These conditions have allowed some to pause and to re-evaluate where they want to be and how they want the consumer to interact with them. Blue Zoo was another great concept to open in OKC earlier this year. It is a full aquarium inside Quail Springs Mall. It has been a great addition and something every family should check out.

There are also some exciting things coming in the first part of 2021 right?

Chicken N Pickle is getting ready to open at The Half development by the American Fidelity headquarters. It is an outdoor concept that should be opening in the first quarter of 2021. Round One at Quail Springs Mall will be opening as well. Stay tuned because we think a lot of great announcements are on deck for 2021.

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