View Full Version : Red Dirt Emporium

Doug Loudenback
09-26-2007, 01:16 AM
Where would you go if you wanted to see an Oklahoma City-based "movie" picture of Marilyn Monroe? To the Oklahoman's archives, like this one on 2/17/1953 ...

... nope ... if you want the "real deal," you'd go to the Red Dirt Emporium, a recently opened retail shop on the Bricktown Canal, 115 E. California, by Hooters, like I did last night ... which I think was its official opening night! There, you'd get Marilyn standing VERY tall in front of the Criterion Theater on the same date as the above Oklahoman ad, 2/17/1953 ...

Larger image:

... talk about a LARGE Marilyn Monroe!

Larger image:

While that's not what I was there for, it's part of what I got at this very nice new retail shop on the Bricktown Canal and it makes a nice addition to my "Let's Go Downtown To The Movies" blog article!

Here are some pics that I took last night.

The Store Logo
Larger image:

Chad Huntington, Proprietor
Larger image:

Chad and Bob Bekoff are partners in this business, as I understand it. Mr. Bekoff owns the Bricktown water taxi business and Mr. Huntington is the taxi's general manager. Chad said that the goal of this new business is to begin to fulfill a public "request" for retail in Bricktown, and, from my visit last night, it seems to me they are off to a good start.

There's noting "cheesy" or "quaint" about it ... no stereotyping stuff ... no "home made crafts" ... just a good array of Oklahoma based goods for people wanting a good piece of work which is Oklahoma related without paying through the nose to get it ... at least, that's my impression. Sure, you can get your "Red Dirt Emporium" T-shirts and some refrigerator magnets if you want, but you can also get a good deal more. The Marilyn photo, for example, is one of hundreds (I think ... so it seemed to me) of similar Oklahoma City vintage photographs which were available. The shop has some sort of relationship with the Flaming Lips band (Flaming Lips Alley is on the north side) so they market some of that group's stuff, too (though I have to confess my general ignorance about that ... I guess that I need to get up to date!).

Here are some looks around the store.

Frankly, I'm not big on Frankoma pottery (even though my wife strongly disagrees with me on that) ...

Larger image:

... but on the walls and around the shop I found plenty of stuff that I DID care about ... lots of history ...

Larger image:

A picture on the wall ... sorry about the photo quality ... had trouble with "flash" issues ...

Larger image:

Your OU/OSU fare ... Flaming Lips on the monitor above the games ...

Larger image:

Messrs. Huntington (left) and Bekoff (right) talking with a guest/customer (middle)

Larger image:

Something else on the wall to buy ...

Larger image:

A couple of more views around the shop

Larger image:

Larger image:

I also picked up a neat book on Okc History that I'd not seen before, "Oklahoma City Rediscovered" by William D. Welge (Arcadia Publishing 2007) which is similar to Terry Griffith's 3 volume series by Arcadia ... similarity ends, though, with the size of the book and its common publisher ... this book contains lots of stuff I've not had my grubby hands on before, images and stories largely focusing on Capitol Hill, Deep Deuce, and Bricktown.

So, having Marilyn and this new book in my mits, I was a happy Doug Dawg! I'm hoping that this retail establish makes it! It seems to me that it should because it's a class joint (so to speak)!

10-04-2007, 06:24 AM
Here's an article in the Journal Record from today:

by Kelley Chambers
The Journal Record October 4, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma-themed gift shop opened in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown, but don’t come looking for kitschy souvenirs like rubber tomahawks or gaudy Oklahoma key rings. What visitors to the store will find are food products made in Oklahoma, native pottery, Route 66 items and one corner of the store devoted to Oklahoma City-based rock band the Flaming Lips. In late August Chad Huntington opened Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Emporium at 115 E. California Ave., in about 1,200 square feet in the Miller Jackson Building, on the canal level in Bricktown.

Huntington is also general manager of Water Taxi LLC, which operates water taxi rides along the Bricktown Canal. He said he saw the store as a way to complement the water taxi business and offer a specific Oklahoma-themed retail option in Bricktown. “I knew that it would take a pretty good time commitment and it would be a major undertaking to do the store,” he said. “But I also saw how it might integrate with Water Taxi and the two could benefit one another.”
Water Taxi employees staff the store and sell tickets for taxi rides at the counter. The store is open seven days per week from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. As the winter months approach and the taxi business slows, Huntington said the hours will probably change.

The store had a soft opening, but now Huntington is hoping to get the word out and define the store as more than a souvenir shop. “We’re very much Oklahoma-specific with this store,” he said. “We try to have a real varied, eclectic mix of products that appeal not just to visitors but to locals and really tell Oklahoma’s story.” Oklahoma brands such as Prairie Gypsy’s food items and Frankoma pottery are available in addition to Route 66 merchandise, T-shirts and coffee mugs specific to Oklahoma.

One area unique to the store is the corner devoted to the Flaming Lips.
Huntington keeps a loop of Flaming Lips videos playing in the store, and said the band, in many ways, was the motivation to open the store. After backers for a project to get an alley in Bricktown named for the band jumped through several hoops, the City Council approved the measure in December. As a member of the Bricktown Association board of directors, Huntington was called upon to make a case to the association and to the city that the alley should be renamed. When the measure was approved, Huntington said he considered opening up an exclusive Flaming Lips store. After discussions with the band’s management, the idea shifted to an Oklahoma music store, and finally to the idea of the gift shop with a focus on local items and music. Huntington said he hopes to eventually stock the catalogs of significant Oklahoma recording artists. The store offers a replica of the Flaming Lips Alley sign for $25. The sign was produced by the band’s label, Warner Bros., and is available exclusively at his store and at the band’s Web site.

Another motivation to offer gift items was the lack of shopping options in Bricktown. Huntington said the water taxi staff sees people from out of state, and from other countries, on a daily basis who want to take home a memento from their trip. “The number one complaint people have with Bricktown is ‘where’s the retail?’” he said. “People are down here ready to buy things and they specifically are interested in buying something that represents their trip to Oklahoma.”