At age 64, Mike Clark is celebrating retirement by working 17 hours a day, six days a week manning the latest addition to Bricktown — "The Store.” "It gets old because I'm the total work force,” Clark admits "Eventually I'll hire some people to give me some relief, but I'm new to this so I want to learn the business first.” It's not that Clark is always on his feet. Since opening on June 6, Clark has spent his slower hours enjoying the sun at a patio table outside the store or lounging in a recliner inside, watching old movies on a big screen television. "My grandkids gave me that,” Clark says of his recliner. "I stay comfortable. The big screen I got myself — I told my wife I had to have it spending so many hours down here.” The Vietnam veteran (he served in the 101st Airborne) spends the rest of his time chatting up customers and sharing tourist information with out-of-town visitors. "It's a fun job,” Clark said. "I had four people in last week from England asking about the sights. So I told them about the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Remington Park. And I'm getting a lot of customers from the hotels. They don't want to rent a car, but they want a beer, or whatever, and the concierges are sending them here.”
Knows the risksClark is well aware of the risks opening and operating a business in Bricktown. He's actually a veteran himself, having operated Bricktown Limos for 10 years. The limo service dispatched 10 vintage automobiles, but was stopped last year after an accident. That matter has been resolved, Clark said, and he's preparing to start up downtown tours with his 1932 Cadillac next month. Clark said he decided to start up The Store after his original space on the east side of the Power Alley Parking Garage had to be shut off for construction of the neighboring Hampton Inn and Suites. Garage owner Marsh Pitman offered Clark a space facing Sheridan Avenue that was previously home to a dress shop. After moving to the new space, Clark said he realized he could do more with it than just operate a limo service. With Deep Deuce one block away and a hotel opening next door, Clark pitched the idea of a store to Pitman. "I'm trying to be a neighborhood grocery store with things you run out of — vegetables, fruits, milk, sandwiches, beer, soft drinks,” Clark said. "I'm also hoping to offer sandwiches from LaBaguette, Johnson Bratwursts, and I'll have ice cream, too.”
Friendly neighborsClark said he's enjoying get to know his neighbors. An executive at Sonic in Lower Bricktown who lives in a loft one block north of The Store makes it a stop each morning as he walks to work with his dog. Another person dropping by on Friday was Paige Gregory, a resident of nearby Deep Deuce and vice president of Urban Neighbors. "It seems to be a little bit like a regular conveience store – a particularly nice convenience store,” Gregory said. "He said that LaBaguette sandwiches will be added, and I think that will be nice. And the central location is helpful.” Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, sees no coincidence in The Store opening next to the Hampton Inn, which is to open this fall. "I think as we see more limited service hotels open up, with no food or beverage operations, we'll see things open that will complement them,” Cowan said. "So what's next? How about a dry cleaners? Or maybe a drug store.”
Store hoursThe Store is open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday in the ground floor of the Power Alley Parking Garage, 222 E Sheridan, just north of the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark.