A few months ago, I wrote an article for UTW about the importance of keeping our money in Tulsa. In the short time since, a number of exciting things have happened toward this effort and I'm thrilled to give a report on the latest and greatest news. Things are looking up and I'm optimistic that as we approach this holiday shopping season, more Tulsans will be a little bit more mindful of their spending and will spend their hard-earned dollars with local merchants (or at least inside our city limits).
Not long after that last article was published, I was honored to be put in charge of a citizens' task force to assist with the fledgling Shop Tulsa campaign. The city had created the campaign, but without adequate resources to promote it, they acknowledged that it might never achieve the desired impact without some help.
The task force is made up of some of Tulsa's most incredible people. We've got local business owners, some local media folks, some bloggers, some big-time Tulsa advocates and some of our friends at city hall. This group of people pushed "reset" on the campaign and got to work laying out a new and more focused approach.
We started by defining the purpose of the campaign. Our goal is to educate and inspire Tulsans to be mindful of the effects of their spending and to choose to spend as locally as possible. This means that we hope Tulsans will first target locally owned independent businesses for their shopping needs. When that's not possible, then the secondary aim is to target businesses of any kind that are located within the city limits of Tulsa. Easy, right?
With the year over year increase in online shopping and rapid growth in the suburbs, Tulsa has suffered through a drain on our sales tax revenue collections, thus causing our local government to have to make tough decisions about which jobs and services lose funding.
Once the goals were defined and a plan put into place, my company, The Engine Room Communications, was brought in to execute the plan (Pro Bono, of course. This is truly a grass roots campaign!). Last week, we hosted a press conference for the campaign's re-launch. City councilors, Maria Barnes, Bill Christiansen, Jack Henderson and Rick Westcott attended the event, as did Mayor Bartlett and many others. They all expressed their whole-hearted support of the campaign (Yes, they all agreed on something).
I'm optimistic that this campaign can do more than just cause Tulsans to think about where they shop. My hope is that it will help to water the seeds of pride that Tulsa has in herself. We have a city to be excited about, though many Tulsans have a history of failing to recognize the things about which they should be proud. If we can foster a more pronounced awareness and support of our small businesses and their impact on our city, perhaps we can become a place that, over time, becomes known for them. Cities with a strong core of small businesses tend to have some common traits -- their citizens are proud of their city. Their visitors hold it in high esteem, and their economies are strong and growing.
In the months to come, The Engine Room will be creating new events to keep Shop Tulsa in the spotlight. We'll be looking for continued support from the community and are optimistic that the excitement about the campaign will continue. Our first event is our kickoff event, The Black Friday Party, to be held Nov. 26 at 8pm at The Blue Dome Diner in downtown Tulsa.
The Black Friday Party will feature a full line-up of local bands, free food from local restaurants and nearly $20,000 in prizes and giveaways from local businesses. The event is free to attend and is open to adults 21 and over. Everyone who attends the event will receive one raffle ticket for a door prize and additional tickets can be earned by showing holiday shopping receipts from local Black Friday purchases.
The local business owners and supporters have stepped up and contributed a huge pile of fantastic gifts. Please express your thanks to our sponsors and shop with them this holiday season.
Our sponsors include Urban Tulsa Weekly, Smart Office, Queenies, In the Raw, Ivey, Lee's Bikes, Merritt's Bakery, McBirney Mansion, Party Pro Rents, Action Audio and Visual, ONB Bank, Rope, Flirt, Sideways, Shoe Gypsy, BOK Center (SMG), McNellie's Group, Fleet Feet, Hi Cupcake, Black Optical, Body and Yoga, Christiansen Aviation, Route 66 Photobooth, Arnies, Mod's, Boomtown Tees, The Max, Joe Momma's, Frederick's Signs, Lolly Garden, Blue Dome Diner, The Edge & Sound (Shamrock), Dwelling Spaces and The Engine Room Creative.
Share this article: