Holidays, Recovering Economy Increase Revenue
By EMILY RAMSEY
SHOPPING TRENDS: Ashley Ryan, left, owner of Must Stash, helps customer Annie Harrison at the Brookside boutique.
Every city is home to a surplus of large chain retailers, which bring in the majority of the city’s sales tax revenue. Tulsa is no exception.
Although the economic climate has been somewhat slow and sluggish to improve, retailers and city officials are optimistic that this holiday season will trend in a more positive direction.
In November, city officials reported that the city received a sales tax check, which covers the period from mid-September 2014 to mid-October 2014, totaling $19,159,733, which is up 2.2 percent from the same period a year ago and 5 percent above budget estimates.
Tulsa’s sales tax collections since the beginning of the fiscal year in July 2014 total $97,638,503, which is 2.2 percent above one year ago, and 2.9 percent above budget estimates.
City officials project to receive $12,884,000 in sales tax revenue generated between November and December that will go toward its general fund. This would be an increase from $12,593,502 from the same time in 2013.
From December to January, general fund sales tax revenue is expected to be $13,416,000, an increase of $205,917 from the previous year.
These projected increases over the previous year come due to both a general economic growth trend that the city is currently seeing and the added shopping brought on by the holiday season.
This economic forecast bodes well for all area businesses, big and small.
Fortunately, Tulsa is home to its own lengthy list of local retailers with the trend for local growing.
Marcia Richards, interior designer and co-owner of Upside Interiors, says that she is preparing for the upswing in business that the holidays bring. Upside offers interior design services and a showroom of home décor items, furniture, lighting and gifts. She and her business partner chose to locate their store on Cherry Street due to the area becoming synonymous with design shops.
Richards feels that the local aspect helps when operating a design business.
“We offer a detailed and specific approach to design with every aspect of a client project carefully planned and managed, which sets us apart from the big box stores,” she says. Richards and her partner also enjoy utilizing Tulsa artists in their design projects. For example, currently, she and her partner are commissioning an industrial dining table with a recycled glass top. “We love the fact that no one in the world will have this table and that it’s being made by a local Tulsa artist.”
Many business owners have chosen to locate their shops in other well-traveled parts of Tulsa, including in Brookside and downtown to set themselves apart.
Ashley Ryan, owner of Must Stash, opened her gift and apparel shop in 2010 in Brookside.
Besides her chosen location being one that puts her near her clientele, Must Stash maintains uniqueness in the items it sells and Ryan’s ability to create relationships with customers and cater to their needs, she says, citing various requests she’s received over the years including additional Thunder apparel and kids items. In response to the latter request, Ryan opened a children’s store (Little Stash) last year.
Stacy Rippy, owner of Simply Boutique in downtown Tulsa, first opened her doors as a pop-up shop in the Deco District during the 2013 holiday season. Rippy opened Simply’s permanent location in the Blue Dome District earlier this year, selecting that location with the aim to cater to downtown workers. “Customers tell me that they appreciate the convenience of being able to stop in over lunch or after work, so that they don’t have to fight to get to the bigger stores,” she says.
Shop owners also endeavor to set themselves apart from competitors through the unique quality of their items. Rippy sources many of her clothing and jewelry items internationally, including from Portugal and the Netherlands.
Iman Alhlou, owner of Dolce Vita, found on Cherry Street, sets her boutique apart by only carrying a few items of each clothing piece and selling a style that is not often found in Tulsa.
“We’ve been told by our customers, ‘When we walk into your store, we feel as though we have gone out of Tulsa,’” she says.