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Riley Roberson
Riley Roberson

Buying Moore

Feb 06, 2018

Buying Moore: How the Changing Face of Retail Impacts Our Community 

by Riley Roberson

“It’s a struggle to keep grace when someone says they can get a product for two dollars cheaper on Amazon,” said Jenny Campbell, owner of Showplace Market in Moore. “It’s a challenge when someone doesn’t see the heart and the care that’s behind those two dollars.”

The face of retail is changing. 

The advent of Amazon has altered the way people think about buying and selling. Shipping can happen in two days, if not sooner. Products can come from another state, another country, or another hemisphere. The centuries-long norm of taking a trip to the store is shifting at its core. 

Originally, the biggest threat Amazon posed was to the book industry. That’s not all it’s threatening anymore. Last year, its apparel sales grew by 25 percent. On top of that, it recently acquired Whole Foods and opened its own convenience stores that don’t require cashiers. At the same time, the number of retailers walking the fine line of bankruptcy in the country is growing--currently up to 22 percent according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.  

In Moore where our local government’s general fund primarily relies on sales tax dollars and where retailers are a cornerstone of the local economy, this trend can raise eyebrows. 

A correlation could be drawn to the turn of the 20th century when people in Oklahoma were rushing to claim and develop land.  For a time this was a massive shift in how things were done and people responded in numerous different ways; the most adaptive thrived. But that didn’t necessarily mean giving up on what they knew or where they were from.

One of those adapters was Al Moore, an employee of the railroad stationed at a watering stop later to become Moore. He was having trouble receiving his mail so he wrote “Moore” on the side of his boxcar.

The lore of Al Moore wasn’t that he was quicker or stronger or better than anyone else. Al Moore is known for holding his ground and writing his name as big as he could, forcing a dynamic world to adapt to him. He made it clear exactly who he was, and he stuck to it. 

The world didn’t stop changing after that. Development after development led us to the present moment where another big change is demanding another adaptive answer. While some believe a dark cloud looms over the future of retail, not everyone sees it that way. 

“Doom and gloom? Not at all!” said Deidre Ebrey, the Director of Economic Development for the City of Moore. 

Ebrey argues Amazon’s impact on local markets isn’t as significant as it’s been made out to be, and she has the numbers to prove it. The National Retail Federation (NRF) would agree with Ebrey, after reporting that holiday sales nationwide were higher than expected. The NRF also said that confidence was higher among consumers than in years past. 

Ebrey’s numbers match up with those of the NRF. Revenue from sales taxes in Moore are up from this time last year. That has to do with the city’s population and the number of opportunities to buy products in Moore. Although things are changing dramatically in the world of retail, people are buying more in Moore. 

Ebrey is actually excited about opportunities the shift in retail presents, and she’s already pleased with the responses she’s seeing. 

“Retailers in the area are being smart about people in the area,” Ebrey said. “I leave it up to them.”

To Ebrey, there were a few places in Moore that stick out. 

The Boxcar of Moore is owned and operated by Matt and Kaylea Vaughan, who have done their research on how the shift in retail and incorporation of new technology will impact their business. 

“Creating something great for the City of Moore also meant recognizing that technology is, and will remain to be, a huge part of creating a successful brand, which is why we created an app that was clean, user-friendly, and personable,” Matt Vaughan said. 

The Vaughans seem to be using The Boxcar to pass the torch from generation to generation, holding Moore’s uniqueness and history highly while also making adaptions for the future. Even the name itself alludes to our old friend who stuck to his uniqueness while times were changing.

“We knew that when we opened The Boxcar we wanted to appreciate the rich history of Moore and the men and women that worked really hard to get us here,” Matt said. “But we also knew that didn’t mean we were destined to be stuck in the past.”

The Vaughans appreciate the people of Moore, and they understand who they are. At the same time, they are keen enough to see things that they could add to Moore to make it even better. They’ve found a way to adapt to changes.

Ebrey also acknowledges Showplace Market as a good example of adaptive change.  She believes owner Jenny Campbell understands her customers and provides special, unique products made by the community, for the community. 

“We have local moms and grandmas making things that you can feel and see,” Campbell said. “We’ve created a tone and environment that Amazon can’t offer.”

Campbell, who grew up in Moore, loves seeing businesses and ideas pop up in Moore because she believes in the people.“Our people are awesome,” Campbell said. “And that’s something you just don’t get anywhere else. One of the people who instantly come to her mind is Jazmine Farmer. 

After tornadoes devastated the area, she had the idea to make and sell “Oklahoma Pride” shirts to raise money for relief. Campbell was on board at Showplace Market, and then things started moving more quickly than Farmer expected. 

Now, Calamity Jane’s Apparel, Farmer’s idea, has expanded to 200 retailers in four states. 

“That person had a dream,” Campbell said. “And I got to watch that evolve.”

Campbell gets to see new ideas every year, from her numerous vendors

“Each year is different,” Campbell said. “We always have to be evolving, whether it’s because of the economy or trends.”

Ebrey and Campbell both have positive attitudes about the people of Moore, its great local businesses, and even the beneficial impact Moore’s economic development has on the city’s children.

“Kids have absolutely no idea how lucky they have it,” Ebrey said. “They have way more to choose from than I did growing up.”

Ebrey is right. The number of businesses, the variety of options, and the ease of access to products are miles from where they once were. All of those variables allow young people to develop simple and effective routines in terms of food, clothing, medicine, and so on. But if online shopping trends continue, there may be something younger generations will miss-out on. 

“They will miss-out on the experience,” Campbell said. “[Younger generations] will assume that’s (online shopping) the norm, and it will put them at a disadvantage.”

Boiling down the once interactive and meaningful shopping process into isolated acts of scrolling and clicking cuts down the experience to a level too robotic for Campbell. She mentioned the number of people that come to Showplace Market to see what’s new, to get ideas, to catch up with friends, and to decompress--all things that don’t include a transaction. Simply clicking and buying online is only a small part of what shopping is in essence. 

With advances in technology and changes in retail, the status quo will continue to become more complex. Thankfully, people like Ebrey, Campbell and the Vaughans are being intentional about it.  Much like Al Moore’s adaptive approach to getting noticed in his changing world, they’re creating a model for younger generations who will face unique challenges of their own.  

Services like Amazon will certainly impact how people live their lives. But for each new challenge it presents, there’s a counter opportunity for local retailers; people like Farmer who capitalize on creativity. Every day they’re introducing new and different ways for people to buy in Moore. 

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  • NRHS 160X600