Setting Up Shop with the Tulsa City-County Library: Retail Store Committee

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The Retail Store Committee, previously called the Social Venture Committee, was created to work with the Tulsa City-County Library (TCCL) to develop a business plan for a retail store. The store will operate within one of the TCCL homework tutoring sites, the first to be operating outside of a library and within a retail shopping center. The idea for the store is modeled after 826 National, a nonprofit that operates stores and homework tutoring centers in seven major cities. The retail stores all have unique, interesting themes that appeal to kids and also attract attention in the community. For example, 826CHI is the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. 826LA is the Time Travel Mart, and 826NYC is the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. Each store sells a combination of outlandish and highly imaginative products.

Although 826 National isn’t currently expanding into new cities, it encourages the use of its model. The TCCL Retail Store Committee chose its theme last year—the store will be an intergalactic spaceport emporium. The store will have all the supplies necessary for a trip across the galaxies. Potential products include astronaut ice cream, SPF 5000 sun/star cream, souvenir pieces of the moon, and postcards and travel posters from planet Earth and other destinations.

Last year’s Committee members met bi-weekly for this brand new, exciting project. Their time was spent doing market research, holding focus groups, and brainstorming products and creative ways to market the store. Library CEO Gary Shaffer said, “The amount of work the two Junior League of Tulsa Committees have put into this joint venture is mind-boggling. I was convinced from the beginning that this dream of launching such a center and retail store was beyond the scope of the library’s capabilities. I could not be more delighted by what the League has brought to the table. The project has come to fruition before our very eyes.”

It was the Committee’s goal for the retail store to bring attention to the TCCL after-school tutoring programs, as well as other library programs. The resources and programs the library provides for the community are expansive while helping to fund the tutoring programs. 

Maria McCue is serving as Chair of the Retail Store Committee for the second consecutive year and is excited about the year ahead because “It’s rare to be able to see a project through from the beginning to end. It is so rewarding to work so closely with such a great organization. The library has included us in every step of the process and really appreciates the League’s commitment to this endeavor. It will be amazing to see the store open!”