The Cranberry Merchant

Feature Friday: Local owners ‘busier than a Cranberry Merchant’

Matt and Chelsea Mize were in the process of downsizing when opportunity didn’t just knock but rather pushed them through a number of doors that have led to the life they feel fortunate to now have.

“I love what I do. I feel very, truly blessed,” said Chelsea Mize, owner of the Cranberry Merchant, 417 W. Will Rogers Blvd. “We don’t know for how long or what reason, but we’re here.”

Intrigued by the building at 417 W. Will Rogers Blvd. on a drive one day, the Mizes stopped by the antique store and visited to the owners, Ken and Peggy Combs, and asked if they’d ever be willing to sell it. The Combs decline.

“They called us a week later and said they’d changed their mind,” Chelsea recalls.

From there, everything just began to fall into place. Each step of the way, the couple gave themselves an out but never needed to cash it in.

“Every expectation, every bar we set for ourselves, there was just an open door,” she said. “God was good and opened every door in front us.”

The Cranberry Merchant will celebrate its third birthday on New Year’s Day. Building from four dealers, the Mizes now house a total of 83 different vendors, bringing variety of great antique finds to the store.

Antiquing runs in Chelsea’s blood. Her grandmother owned an antique booth in downtown Claremore, which Chelsea took over when her grandmother passed away 10 years ago.

Not only was her grandmother an inspiration for the business, but also for the store’s name. When Chelsea was growing up, her grandmother used to say she was “busier than a cranberry merchant.” It was another thing that just fell right into place.

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Feature Friday: Vintique Charm provides something for everyone

Sheila Giannelli never saw herself as a boutique owner but after earning a paralegal degree and spending 14 years as a homemaker, things fell into place and she opened Vintique Charm and Boutique, 321 W. Will Rogers.

“I just feel blessed. I’m very, very, very absolutely 199 percent thankful every day that I can do this,” Sheila said. “I never really thought this would happen for me … it just happened.”

“My whole life just changed when I opened the store, so I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Originally focused on chalk paint, the businesses grew to include handmade furniture pieces, refurbished items and clothing.

“We just wanted to carry one of everything if we could,” Sheila said. “I really want thing that are handmade and just things that catch the eye, things that are different. I’ve never wanted to carry what anybody else has.”

One of her favorite aspects of the store is the chalk paint classes, she said. Chalk paint, which celebrates its 25th anniversary today, has key benefits for remodeling projects, such as it can go over existing paint, gives a distressed look and coats evenly.

“That has probably been my biggest success,” she said. “I owe everything I have really to the paint.”

Sheila offers various classes, including a “Bring Your Own Piece,” which is $125 for about three hours, a can of paint and a couple painting essentials. She also teaches smaller, instructional classes for $75 and hosts Pinterest parties, which range from $25-$40.

She said she tries to host at least one class every other week in Claremore as well as at her Tulsa store. Follow Vintique Charm on Facebook for class details.

Sheila also does a lot of custom-made items, including T-shirts, signs and wine glasses. Vintique Charm opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Popular Cash Mob returns this fall

Downtown Claremore stores are going to get mobbed again this fall — besieged with shoppers eager to spend their $20.

Claremore Main Street, Inc., is bringing back the popular Cash Mob in October. “Mobbers” who sign up will commit to spending a minimum of $20 at a downtown store, chosen randomly the night of the event.

Mobbers will be asked to participate – or send a representative – to each Cash Mob, which will be the evening on the first Tuesday of every other month beginning Oct. 6.

“This event has been hugely popular in the past. Mobbers love the opportunity to support local businesses and purchase great finds,” said Denise Lawrence, Main Street’s promotion committee chairwoman. “It’s great for the mobbers, the merchants and local economy.”

Not only that, but also each event also supports a local charity. Ten percent of the proceeds from the night go to a local charity voted on by participants that night.

Participating stores this year include, but are not limited to, Vintique Charm and Boutique, Thrift Harbor, the Belvidere, Sailor Antique, Burlap Closet, Cranberry Merchant, Willow Tree and Cozy Cottage.

“We are excited to be a participating store in this year’s Cash Mob,” said Kathy Glover, owner of Cozy Cottage. “It is a lot of fun! This is such a great thing for the downtown merchants, and it gives our community a chance to enjoy our stores in the evenings.”

Many downtown stores will remain open through the mob, even if their business is not the one chosen that month, giving mobbers a chance to enjoy other stores after making their purchase at that month’s store.

Tap here to sign up to join the Cash Mob. Mobbers must attend all the Cash Mobs and spend at least $20 in the chosen store.


Jenny Meeks is an old-fashioned kind of lady. Quiet but forever with a smile on her face, Jenny greets customers every day at her store, Outwest Home Décor, 418 W. Will Rogers Blvd.

Prior to Outwest, she worked at Hallmark for more than two decades, but as soon as computers were introduced to the store, Jenny wanted out.

Despite technology at its most prevalent, Jenny does all her inventory and business management with a traditional paper and pencil, she said.

“I was familiar with what the customer wanted,” Jenny explained about branching out on her own. “They wanted larger statues and items that don’t fit on a counter. I saw a need for it and thought, ‘I can do that.’”

“We have décor for hunting, fishing, camping, lodges, really anything outdoors.”

Jenny epitomizes a strong work ethic. In the winter, you can find Jenny scraping ice and snow off the sidewalks all up and down the 400 block of Will Rogers. She runs her store without help seven days a week and has been doing so since she opened more than 11 years ago.

“It’s hard work, but it’s fun,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have something to do.”