The International Council of Shopping Centers held its first Oklahoma-only idea exchange in downtown Oklahoma City this week since the global trade group split the Oklahoma group from Arkansas at members' request.
More than 200 industry professionals gathered Tuesday for the event, held at the Cox Convention Center.
Organizers showcased homegrown success stories such as Hobby Lobby, which in 40 years has grown to more than 500 stores. Founder and Chief Executive Officer David Green answered questions during a lunchtime session.
Jim Parrack, senior vice president retail for Price Edwards & Co., said there are more new retailers coming to Oklahoma now than in the past 15 or 20 years. Emerging concepts include Raising Cane's, which plans to focus company expansion on Oklahoma and Texas this year, Mathis Brothers' Lady Americana brand, which has found success with its Sleep Studios, and Archer Market, a new urban grocery opening soon in downtown Tulsa offering bulk grocery items, a deli and food bar, coffee shop and home delivery service.
Grocers Hank Binkowski, of Buy For Less, Darryl Fitzgerald of Homeland, and Jeff Williams, of Williams Family Foods, discussed big changes in the grocery market during a morning session. Each had major developments in the past year: Buy For Less introduced its Uptown Grocery concept in Edmond, Homeland transitioned to an employee-owned company and Williams Family Foods built its first ground-up location in Piedmont.
Tech-savvy consumers are more frequently shopping online for dry grocery products like cereal, so grocery stores are adapting by offering more perishable and prepared foods, Fitzgerald said.
“The center of the store is shrinking because so many retailers are competing,” he said.
Binkowski said Uptown Grocery will introduce online ordering for its products with delivery to the customer's vehicle, an added convenience for time-crunched shoppers.