At least 22 new retailers will open for business Thursday along the Bricktown Canal as part of the new Bricktown Red Dirt Marketplace — a dream launched by two veterans of the entertainment district.
Chad Huntington and Bob Bekoff began talking about the potential for a marketplace soon after opening their Red Dirt Emporium along the canal level of the Bricktown Canal three years ago. Bekoff previously started the Bricktown water taxis in 1999 – an operation managed by Huntington.
The 6,000-square-foot former basement space at the Miller Jackson Building was used as storage for almost a century. It opens Thursday with an assortment of retailers.
For Suan Grant, the marketplace and its small booths offered the perfect opportunity to get her Peppers and Pots store started in Bricktown without spending thousands on rent.
"I've been making favorite jellies and jams for my family and friends for many years,” Grant said. "They kept saying I should bottle it and sell it. And finally I did. My daughter and I had really been wanting to come down here ... she was doing pottery, and we just thought this would be great place to start.”
Huntington and Bekoff spent the past several months preparing the basement for occupancy, and didn't start soliciting tenants until last month. So far they have about half of the market's 80 spaces leased.
"It's gone incredibly well,” Huntington said. "We've been overwhelmed with the response we've gotten from existing retailers who have participated in markets like this.