Interns 2013

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On-a-whim idea leads to overwhelming success

Kyle Hinchey Published: July 5, 2013
Debbie Trachtenberg is the co-owner of On A Whim, at 5850 N Classen Blvd. in Classen Curve. The boutique carries a multitude of items, such as baby and house warming gifts, jewelry and fashion. Photo by Aliki Dyer,  The Oklahoman
Debbie Trachtenberg is the co-owner of On A Whim, at 5850 N Classen Blvd. in Classen Curve. The boutique carries a multitude of items, such as baby and house warming gifts, jewelry and fashion. Photo by Aliki Dyer, The Oklahoman

What began as a spur-of-the-moment idea for Debbie Trachtenberg and Gina Bennett in 1998 evolved into a thriving company that has earned its place among the top women-owned stores in Oklahoma.

When Trachtenberg and Bennett decided to open their own store, On a Whim, they were thinking small and simple. They could sell some pottery and maybe some accessories.

But then they got hooked.

The duo added candles, shoes, clothing, gifts — If people are looking to buy it, they are looking to sell it.

On A Whim is located at 5850 N Classen Blvd at Classen Curve. The boutique carries a multitude of items such as baby and house warming gifts, jewelry and fashion. Photo by Aliki Dyer,  The Oklahoman
On A Whim is located at 5850 N Classen Blvd at Classen Curve. The boutique carries a multitude of items such as baby and house warming gifts, jewelry and fashion. Photo by Aliki Dyer, The Oklahoman

“We call ourselves ‘the best of everything for you and your home,’” Trachtenberg said.

On a Whim’s first location, an 838-square-foot building in Nichols Hills Plaza, became too small to contain Trachtenberg and Bennett’s new direction for the store.

“We even had to open our boxes in the back alley,” Trachtenberg said. “We had no break room. We had no back room. We had nothing.”

On a Whim found a bigger home at 7118 N Western Avenue. The shop-friendly community warmly welcomed Trachtenberg and Bennett.

Trachtenberg prides herself on the store’s hard-to-come-by merchandise line, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in Oklahoma.

Pottery by furniture and ceramics powerhouse MacKenzie-Childs, which is exclusive to On a Whim in Oklahoma, is the store’s most popular line.

On A Whim is located at 5850 N Classen Blvd at Classen Curve. The boutique carries a multitude of items such as baby and house warming gifts, jewelry and fashion. Photo by Aliki Dyer,  The Oklahoman
On A Whim is located at 5850 N Classen Blvd at Classen Curve. The boutique carries a multitude of items such as baby and house warming gifts, jewelry and fashion. Photo by Aliki Dyer, The Oklahoman

“We quickly became the largest Mackenzie-Childs store in the country,” she said.

Trachtenberg and Bennett opened a second shop in Tulsa last year. The Oklahoma City store eventually outgrew its Western Avenue location and had to move less than a mile way to Classen Curve, at 5850 N Classen Blvd.

The short move allowed the store to keep its loyal customer base.

On a Whim is ranked No. 7 on The Journal Record’s largest women-owned businesses in Oklahoma, and Trachtenberg hopes to climb higher on the list.

“We’ve worked really hard over the years to come to this place, and I think it shows that if you love what you’re doing and you work hard at it, you can be successful,” she said.

“I hope that other businesses in Oklahoma will see that women can do a great business on their own. It just takes dedication.”

 

BY KYLE HINCHEY

khinchey@opubco.com