Route 66 Revival

Midtown Market Honors the Past in Tulsa’s Newest Urban Hot Spot

 

There’s a special uplifting feeling about Midtown Market. It’s hard to pin-point, and even harder to explain, but it’s apparent the second you pass through its doors. Maybe it’s the classic rock ‘n roll music that welcomes you to dance, or the warm smiles from the friendly sales staff who know your name and are truly thrilled to see you. Or maybe it’s the avant-garde collection of goodies too numerous to mention. Whatever that unexpected feeling is—Midtown Market has it in spades.

Every nook and cranny of the shop is filled with carefully selected gift items and home furnishings by owner and interior designer, Susan Fielstra.

“I’m always on the hunt for great things and our inventory literally changes weekly. I had a customer tell me that no matter how short the time is in between visits, the store is always completely different,” she says. “I love that.”

The store sits just off the road next to the Renaissance Square Event Center owned by the Campbell Hotel. The 1940s building was once the welding shop of Ernest Wiemann Iron Works. The original jib crane is still on the ceiling, now a lovely host to a selection of whimsical chandeliers for sale, as is the concrete floor now refinished with the store’s logo and the industrial roll up garage door which allows a flood of delicious light into the space.

Recently, Ernest Wiemann’s granddaughter visited the store and said her grandfather would be so happy with what she has done with his building.

“It’s the ultimate compliment we could receive. We are carrying on, his spirit is alive and well,” says Fielstra.

Distinctive Gifts Galore

Looking for something special? Midtown Market has unique items not available anywhere else in Tulsa. The ever changing stock of items include designer pillows, artwork, jewelry, scarves, antique furniture and must-have mirrors. A self professed “picker” Fielstra makes several trips to market each year and scours vintage shops for one-of-a-kind treasures. She strives to maintain a perfect balance of quality items, from designer exclusives to affordable gift items.

“We work really, really hard to keep our prices low,” she says.

Midtown Market carries a huge assortment of Tyler candles in yummy fragrances such as Mediterranean Fig, French Market and Pineapple Crush. Another popular item is CeCe Caldwell’s natural chalk and clay paint, which DIYers love for its ability to paint over just about any surface, including plastic and metal.

“I’ve met the nicest people and have the best customers. We have a very loyal following. I don’t feel like I ever really work!” she says.

Designed for Success

An interior designer for 20 years, Fielstra started Midtown Market as a side business to her interior design company and drapery work room.

She says, “Midtown Market was never strategically planned, it simply evolved. We ended up with some extra square footage at our previous 12th and Harvard location, so I decided to try my hand at retail. I simply fell in love with it. I knew we would eventually outgrow the space.”

Susan Fielstra and Stacy Turnipseed are the staff designers for the Campbell Hotel. When Fielstra had the opportunity to move into the building near it two years ago, she was all in.

“I’ve always loved this area. It’s interesting that you find yourself exactly where you know you were meant to be,” she says.

In addition to the retail store, Midtown Market houses Susan Fielstra Interiors, Interiors by Stacy (Turnipseed), and Marilyn DallaRosa Interiors—all full service designers providing in-home consultations, custom draperies made on site, blinds, shutters, shades, and accessories. Also in the center of the shop is a fabric library with every color and pattern imaginable for draperies and furniture.

The New Cherry Street

Eleventh street, aka historic Route 66, is being hailed as Tulsa’s next urban hot spot. Developers are taking advantage of rundown real estate and are renovating with a fervor. Well known buildings like the Tulsa Brake & Clutch Co. and Speedometer Service Co. are getting a second chance at life. Brightly colored retail shops, trendy eateries, and eclectic locally-owned businesses are popping up everywhere.

“Our location is ideal. It’s easy to come in and buy a gift for someone, have lunch at Maxwell’s on your lunch hour, and get back to work. I am so excited to see people moving in and opening businesses,” Fielstra explains.

She says “people in the know” are predicting that 11th street is going to be the next Cherry Street. Commercial rent prices are budget friendly, parking is much better, and changes are seen daily.

Aaron Meek and Barbara Casey with Group M Investment, Inc. are passionate about progress. They brought the Campbell Hotel back from disrepair and renovated the 11th Street Lofts from an old dry-cleaning shop. Group M recently purchased and is renovating the Greer buildings at 11th and Rockford into 5-7 new retail spaces.

Like Midtown Market, other established businesses on Route 66 are excited about the revitalization of 11th street. El Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant has been in the same location just west of Utica since 1953.

Owner John Walden says, “We like being part of history—it’s a storied location. We have people from all over the world stop in as they travel Route 66. We have remained in the same location because our guests know we are here. We have four generations of family members as regular customers.”

Walden and co-owner, Jeff Walden, have considered expanding for a while, but now feel like it is the right time to do it. They are renovating their second floor for a cantina and taco bar.

Fielstra says that things are moving fast and the area from the University of Tulsa to Peoria Avenue will look completely different in two years.

She says, “There is a great energy in this area. You can feel the neighborhood coming back to life. I’m excited to see what the future has in store.”