Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Whole Foods Opening Soon In Oklahoma City: A Sign Of A Changing Region

Published First On: Caleb Golston, FTW!

Whole Foods Opening Soon In Oklahoma City: A Sign Of A Changing Region

Caleb Golston
8/9/2011


Many in the Oklahoma City area are wondering when the Whole Foods at the triangle at Classen Curve is going to open. A July 20 piece at NewsOk.com by food editor Dave Cathey says "around Halloween". This is the most recent update on the grand opening date from a credible source I have found. In late June, Whole Foods told Oklahoma City news stations that construction was ahead of schedule and the grand opening could happen as soon as September. Before that, Whole Foods was saying ‘late 2011’. For now, ‘around Halloween,’ the median of the three, sounds reasonable. The truth is regardless of the specific date it won’t be long now. What does a Whole Foods eminent opening say about Oklahoma City?

The city, which has grown 15% in the past decade, doesn’t have the best image nationwide. In fact, tornados, obesity and the 1995 Murrah Building bombings are about the only things non-natives know about the city. But times in the region are beginning to change. Oklahoma City has been simply one of the strongest economies during the current economic downturn. Unemployment has been well below the national average and the continued growth of the oil and natural gas business regionally ensures a bright future. Furthermore, Oklahoma like other Great Plains states is considered more business friendly than many other states. It is becoming increasingly common to hear stories of businesses moving from California and other states to the Great Plains, to enjoy lower taxes and the lowest cost of living in America. With increasing business growth, more jobs and immigration into the city from other states comes demand for upscale restaurants, retail stores and healthier options like Whole Foods.

Whole Foods isn’t the only trendy--dare one say ‘sexy'--new business coming to Oklahoma City soon. Confirmed new arrivals not traditionally associated with The Sooner State will be Anthropologie, 5 Guys Burgers, Sunflower Market, Marco’s Pizza and Genghis Grill. Other businesses hoping to open in Oklahoma City soon include Performance Bikes, California Pizza Kitchen, LA Fitness, Sam Moon, Sprouts, Von Maur, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Edward Watts Golf and others. Many of these might sound out of place in the 8th most obese state as the list of newcomers is largely composed of ‘health-food’ grocery stores, sporting goods retailers, gyms and lighter dining options.

In addition to a high obesity rate, Oklahoma is the 8th poorest state, and has 5th highest smoking rate of any state. I believe with stores like Whole Foods coming to Oklahoma City, a paradigm shift is occurring. And it is in reaction to this shift that these stores are coming to OKC rather than the catalyst for change. Whole Foods isn’t cheap and will not be the primary grocery store for most Oklahomans. However, anyone can incorporate a few changes into their lifestyle, especially more produce. In response to Whole Foods selling fresh local produce, organics, pasture raised meat and whole grain breads, according to Dave Cathey’s article, other grocery stores in the area are introducing these types of products to their lineups. This is how it takes off. More and more healthy and gourmet options arrive and those interested can try them. There will always be a market for traditional options, such as fried catfish, which by all means have their place but also more options for something lighter. There will be more choices to choose from now and that is a good thing. One final positive of all these new stores opening is all the jobs it is creating for locals.

The path to a better image and a healthier, less impoverished population is underway, though it will not come overnight. This transformation will come in steps and will trickle down to many Oklahomans, especially the next generations. It's not just because of a Whole Foods opening "around Halloween" but because of the thousands of other positive things like this to come.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let everyone think that we are all fat , lazy and stupid. It will keep them out of our great state. Oklahoma is kind of like that cool little indi band that you never want to hit it big because then everyone will know how great they are, thus spoiling the coolness. I have lived all over the world and OKLA is paradise compared to 99% of the places

Anonymous said...

I for one, think that Oklahoma City is full of bigoted, backwards people. I think that the people in this state need to really open their minds and hearts and try to practice some of the religious dogma they preach. It does not matter how many cool places we have coming to this city, if the people in this city remain ignorant and bigoted we will remain deserving of the poor reputation we have nationally. For those who say if you don't like it leave... I fully intend to.

Caleb Golston said...

"Let everyone think that we are all fat , lazy and stupid. It will keep them out of our great state. Oklahoma is kind of like that cool little indi band that you never want to hit it big because then everyone will know how great they are, thus spoiling the coolness. I have lived all over the world and OKLA is paradise compared to 99% of the places"

Great to see some discussion. When I first came to Oklahoma from Dallas for college I first thought 'what have gotten myself into'. Now, after 3 years there are some things I really like about this place. The Great Plains in parts of the state is one of the things. The sunsets, another. There is good too. That article will come sometime. If I had to choose between OKC and DFW I think I would choose OKC.

Also, I am trying to be realistic and honest in the article (what's the point of an 'everything is wonderful' article) but not trying to say: 'the people of Seattle or Minneapolis are better because they eat more vegetables' or something way to simple and general like that.

Caleb Golston said...

"I for one, think that Oklahoma City is full of bigoted, backwards people. I think that the people in this state need to really open their minds and hearts and try to practice some of the religious dogma they preach. It does not matter how many cool places we have coming to this city, if the people in this city remain ignorant and bigoted we will remain deserving of the poor reputation we have nationally. For those who say if you don't like it leave... I fully intend to."

I agree with a lot of that sentiment. I try not to get political in my geography blog,(just started another one for that).

I think people need to realise that we will never all get along or like everyone. The best thing someone can do is live their life and try to be the best person they can be. Instead of worrying about what morals are being violated by a neighbor, look only at what can be done to be a better person within. Legislating a world view is controlling and petty. I also don't think an individual owes society a certain behaviour or lifestyle.

I hope to leave after college too, if nothing more than because of the brutal summer AND winter we just had. And to get close to the ocean!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Oklahoma and moved to the Great Northwest 35 years ago. I've had a second home in Ok and investments here for 11 years. Some things never change. The regional cuisine is still a known health hazard, as the statistics show. And read the side of that cigarette pack, will ya'? Bigotry and racism? You bet! It's alive and well, and as disgusting and backward as ever. And, yes, ignorant! (Does anyone really believe Jesus was Irish/Italian/German???) And each individual DOES owe it to the rest of society to become enlightened because they CAN! Let go of old fears and beliefs, it'll do you good. Business ethics are so very weak in Oklahoma. Here you are in the Buckle of the Bible Belt, and you are whipped silly by the ethics of Portland, Or, the least churched state in the union! I never cease to be amazed at those who cheat in business after handing out their business card with the sign of the fish prominently displayed on their card. And how about recycling? Ever heard of it? That's where you DON'T throw all your trash in a hole in the earth. And, yes, it's about time we got a decent option for shopping for food. When you have the opportunity to live or visit somewhere else, you realize what you don't have here, that other places have had in great numbers for DECADES! Love Oklahoma on one hand, could never live here full time. And, by the way, I'm a political conservative. I'm just thankful we are getting a Whole Foods Store....Finally!! What's the saying??..."baby steps".

Caleb Golston said...

Well, one small point, I think one of Oregon's congresspeople was just forced to resign due to ethics issues. But I get your sentiment, the Bible Belt builds a standard which they don't live up too. It isn't a reasonable expectation and I dare say it isn't even Biblical. I think people need to work to make themselves the most moral person they can without worrying about how moral their neighbor is.

The Pacific Northwest is a place I am looking into moving to soon (within 2 years). In all seriousness, when you add up all the pros and cons it is really hard to beat Oregon, Washington, or even Vancouver over any other place in North America.