Bright outlook

“Keep your face to the sunshine,” said Helen Keller, “and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”

No shadows today at the Sunflower Farmers Market, which opened this past Wednesday in Oklahoma City to what was reported to be just this side of a literal crush of shoppers. Certainly this afternoon they were bunched up tighter than retail asparagus.

It didn’t take too long, however, to see who their regular customers are going to be:

  1. People who resist the tyranny of brand names;
  2. People who like the idea of health-food stores but who want to pick up some BBQ fixin’s on the way;
  3. People who have been waiting all their lives for a Whole Foods and couldn’t wait any longer.

And with an actual Whole Foods opening later this year, it was imperative for Sunflower to strike first. With the local grocery market shifting a bit — Walmart, which has roughly half the volume, is not growing much, while people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart seem to be on the increase — I’m thinking that Sunflower’s odds are good. To see if their goods are odd, I bought fruit both fresh and dried, an item from the meat department (bone-in ribeye, if you must know), and a no-sugar-added pie from the bakery, on the basis that these might be the items over which the local store would have the most control.

But the most telling story right now is parking. (Store staff are being told to park across 63rd in French Market Mall to preserve customer spaces.) I had unusually good fortune today, in that I had almost no wait time for a space; as I took the first turn, there was a Mini backing up. And I don’t mean one of those pricey BMW-built creatures, either: I’m talking a real live British Morris Mini Minor, presumably not blessed by John Cooper. To the three basic types of Sunflower customers, add “3½. People who were retro long before retro was cool.”





7 comments

  1. Melessa »

    3 September 2011 · 9:14 pm

    With the new position at work, I have to make all of the bank runs. The museum is near the capitol, so of course the bank is in Nichols Hills. I was annoyed at this new responsibility until I realized each bank visit will take me past Sunflower Market. I haven’t been yet, but I’m sure I’ll visit soon.

  2. Brett »

    3 September 2011 · 11:00 pm

    “But the most telling story right now is parking.”

    So much for my visits to Half-Price Books.

  3. CGHill »

    3 September 2011 · 11:06 pm

    They did seem to be having a rough time of it today at the bookstore, though I did overhear one person saying that he had meant to go look at books and got drawn into the Sunflower mêlée. I have to assume that once the novelty wears off, things will settle down a bit.

  4. CGHill »

    5 September 2011 · 10:19 am

    And over the past day and a half, I sampled those products purchased, and pronounced them Above Average. The pie, outsourced to Bonerts, was deftly executed, and that steak grilled up nicely.

  5. ms7168 »

    5 September 2011 · 12:52 pm

    I just went by this morning and I lucked out and got to park at the door because someone was leaving just as I got to them :) There were picketers out on May in front of the store with signs saying “KEEP YOUR TAX DOLLARS IN OKLAHOMA” “BOYCOTT SUNFLOWER FOODS”. I am all for supporting my local business and I do so whenever possible. I wanted to check this out is all. I probably won’t be a regular patron. But 85% lean ground beef for $2.99 a pound? Heck yes :)

  6. Ron »

    13 September 2011 · 12:59 pm

    Just curious, anybody know who the folks picketing out front really are? I notice they have been there relentlessly day after day. Is it some local group that has a legitimate gripe or some other retailers faux protesters? Since I have become retired I think I have become way to curious about these kind of things … lol! Anyway, hey, I’m in for some of that $1.79 ground beef they just advertised!

  7. CGHill »

    13 September 2011 · 1:07 pm

    Depending on whose story you believe, these folks represent Oklahoma producers who are ostensibly given short shrift (for which I read “insufficient promotion”) on the shelves, or the UFCW wanting a piece of the action. (At least one person has reported that Sunflower actually pays better than Homeland, the one local chain represented by UFCW.) Or maybe they take turns on the line.

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