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Local Retail: Allison Barta Bailey
For Allison Barta Bailey, local retail consultant, the growth and success of local retailers is her business, and business has never been better.
“Oklahoma City feels like it is a growing community—like you can actually make a difference and be a part of something,” Bailey said. “Whatever your passion is or what you like to do, you can start a business here and make a life for yourself without the chaos and competition of some of the larger cities.”
Bailey’s consultant work with local retailers has led many Oklahoma City customers to the products of Oklahoma City-owned businesses. One of her most popular events is the Holiday Pop Up Shops, a collection of 30 Oklahoma-owned pop up shops gathered in one location during the holiday shopping season.
“I really feel like Oklahoma City residents look for authenticity in their retailers,” Bailey said. “That is one of the things that make the Holiday Pop Up Shops work well. Every retailer there is passionate about their business, and I think the customers feel that when they come.”
The Holiday Pop Up Shops also allow retailers to experiment with a location in the urban core without a long lease commitment. Since the first Holiday Pop Up Shops in 2012, Bailey said that several retailers have opened permanent locations in the urban core or moved their shops to the Midtown or Automobile Alley districts.
Bailey also provides consulting to commercial real estate developers looking to add retail tenants to their portfolio. With the growth of Oklahoma City’s unique districts, Bailey said that one common item of importance to both retailers and developers is the increase in Oklahoma City’s walkability – especially in its urban districts.
“Oklahoma City is evolving from a place that is focused on driving to each individual destination to becoming a city that you drive to a district or an area of town and you walk around to several places there,” Bailey said. “Having a collection of interesting places for people to visit, shop and eat in one location is becoming very important.”
Bailey also said that the growth and success of individual districts creates a strong foundation for retailers who locate in those districts.
“There is power in numbers when multiple businesses are located in one area,” Bailey said. “It is good for any business to have a location identity.”
Bailey says that Oklahoma City’s healthy economy has increased the buying power of Oklahoma City residents, but the people who live in Oklahoma City are also passionate about supporting local retail.
“Oklahoma City is a welcoming place for new ideas and new businesses,” Bailey said. “If you have a genuine interest in Oklahoma City and having a business here, then you can be successful.”