The World Second Oldest Profession: The Spice Trade Sets up Shop in Oklahoma City

Savory Spice Shop of Denver comes to Oklahoma thanks to third-generation Okie Able Blakley.
by Dave Cathey Modified: September 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm •  Published: September 26, 2012

The homestead he founded more than a century ago is the same homestead where grandson Danny and his wife, Debra, taught school, farmed, raised cattle and houseful of children, including one they named Able.

A spice trader's journey

Able Blakley learned to farm and raise cattle through high school, then went to the University of Oklahoma, where he earned business and marketing degrees. He then moved to Denver, where he worked in insurance. While insurance paid the bills, it didn't scratch the itch to cook, which he'd picked up from his grandfather, Billy Dale Dotter, who has spent the bulk of his life as a practitioner of family medicine in Alva.

“My grandfather's family had Dotter's Cafe in Alva in the early '50s,” Blakley explained. “He was a cook there until it closed. I always loved eating his food, I guess he's where I got my love of cooking.”

Cooking offered therapeutic respite from the grind of insurance claims and adjustments, which paid the bills but fueled no passion.

In 2004, Blakley discovered the original Savory Spice Shop in Denver. He became such a regular that when he decided to change sides, his corporate trainer laughed and told him she didn't have anything to teach him that he didn't already know about the products.

But the decision to go into the spice trade wasn't easy for Blakley. While the trade had his heart, the sudden death of his father in September 2010 broke it and had him entertaining thoughts of returning to the family business.

“When my dad died, I thought about trying to take over the cattle operation,” Blakley said. “But I went to biz school. I just couldn't see a successful model.”

They rented much of the land to be farmed, and his mother and business partner, Debra, continues to live there as she and her son endeavor forth into a trade so ancient that it once buoyed the world's economy. History is part of what instills Able with confidence he can make a living “selling salt and pepper.”

“Wars have been fought over the spice trade,” Blakley said. “Worldwide shipping routes were invented to support the spice trade. History is on our side.”

It always has been for the Blakley clan. Able initially planned to open Sept. 9 but was delayed a week. That means on the 119th anniversary of George Washington Blakley's claim-staking in Garfield County, his great grandson, Able, opened Savory Spice Shop in Oklahoma City.

Wonder if the shop has any freshly ground karma?

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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If you go

Savory Spice Shop

• Where: 4400 N Western Ave.

• When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

• Call: 314-6209; search Savory Spice Shop OKC on Facebook or go online to savoryspiceshop.com

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