By Nikki Hager
Most University of Tulsa students refuse to take the perilous trek to Broken Arrow. An exhausting 15 minutes away (or a debilitating 25-minute drive in traffic), the faraway land is infamous for megachurches, minivans and soccer moms—the epitome of suburbia.
Three TU students, News Editor Morgan Krueger, writer Alyssa Adamson and I, not only made the expedition in sub-freezing temperatures, but managed to find solace in a stretch of shops and restaurants known as the Rose District.
Just a fifteen-minute drive from Tulsa, the Rose District is filled with charming shops and enjoyable sightseeing.
Located in downtown Broken Arrow, the Rose District spans several blocks of Main Street from Fortworth to College Street.
Last June, the city of Broken Arrow launched a $3.7 million project to revitalize the area. Renovations included new sidewalks, fewer traffic lanes, landscaping and rezoning the area.
City councilwoman Jill Norman was instrumental to getting the Rose District project started. She emphasized creating something new and unique for the area, while still honoring the city’s past.
“It was not to turn Broken Arrow into a copycat of what other cities across the U.S. are doing but rather capitalize on the unique features, attributes and characteristics we have in Broken Arrow and highlight them to create a gathering place downtown, as it was so many years ago,” Norman said in an interview with the Tulsa World.
According the Rose District’s website, early settlers of Broken Arrow sought to beautify the area’s prairie landscapes by adding rose bushes, and travelers began to refer to Broken Arrow as “the City of Roses.”
The first stop on our adventure was 1907, a shop dedicated to selling made-in-Oklahoma products.
The shop was opened six months ago by TU alumna Brie Caywood and her brother.
Walking through the door, the first thing I noticed was a faux-grass, Oklahoma-shaped doormat, and I instantly thought, “I must have this.”
As I scanned the shop, I found myself continually experiencing an “I must have this,” reaction to a majority of the products in the store.
From beautiful hand-crafted jewelry to pillow covers to funky screen-printed tees, all of the products made in the store were made in Oklahoma, with the exception of the clothing, which is still sourced from within the United States.
The Caywoods get much of their merchandise through Made in Oklahoma, an organization that promotes Oklahoma agricultural and craft businesses. The Caywoods also design and craft much of the retail themselves.
“When I first came here, there were a lot of baby-bow stores and shops geared to old ladies,” Brie Caywood said. “I wanted to open a shop that was unique to Oklahoma and couldn’t easily be replicated.”
The shop is a member of “Keep It Local OK,” which started in 2010 in Oklahoma City and has been spreading throughout the state ever since. It is an incentive program to encourage Oklahomans to shop locally. With the purchase of a 10 dollar “Keep it Local Card,” cardholders enjoy a 10 percent discount at member stores, as well as other discounts and rewards.
“A lot of (boutique) stores go to Market in Dallas to purchase their items,” Caywood said, “but if we can’t support Oklahomans why should anyone else? I love Oklahoma, and I think if we could have as much pride as Texans have about their state, it could help Oklahoma grow.”
The next stop on our journey was McHuston Booksellers and Irish Bistro—one part used bookstore, one part cafe. The shop offers trade for used books, which can save an avid reader a lot of money.
Books like “A Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism” and “20,000 Insults” line the shelves, as well a variety of more familiar titles.
Perhaps her favorite find of the day, Adamson purchased a three-volume pictorial history set of the city of Tulsa.
According to store owner, McHuston, there have only been two of them to come through the bookshop in eight years.
We rounded out our trip at Nouveau Chocolates, which offers a variety of chocolates, teas and other treats.
Overall, the trip exceeded my expectations. Broken Arrow is not exactly known for a riveting arts and entertainment scene. 1907 and McHuston are two unique, quality stores that I would highly recommend making the trip to see.
Additionally, a wine and cigar shop is slated to open just down the street. I plan to make a trip back to the Rose District when it opens.