Sipping, savoring and shopping set for this weekend

Some tickets are still available for Saturday’s Sip, Savor & Shop: Taste of Claremore event in downtown Claremore.

The popular event kicks off at 6 p.m. April 30 and offers attendees an opportunity to sample from 26 restaurants and wineries set up inside various downtown Claremore stores along the three-block district.

Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 on the day-of while children five years and younger who are sampling off an adult’s plate are free. Tickets are limited and while available are on sale at participating downtown stores.

In addition to the food and shopping, the evening will feature a variety of sidewalk entertainment by Heartland Xpress, Ben Neikirk, EJ “Elvis” Sharp and Sara Maud and Cortney Toumayan.
​Participating restaurants are: 6:19 Nutrition, Arri’bin Hills Winery, Belvidere Tea Room, Blue Coyote Winery, Boom-a-rang Diner, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cappuccino Corner, Carl’s Coney Island, Charlie’s Chicken, Diamondhead Winery, El Charro, Elk’s Lodge Catering, El Maguey, Front Porch Bakery, Hammett House, McDonald’s Café, Oke Ozark Winery (two locations), Okie Annie’s, Papa John’s Pizza, Rib Crib, Sam’s Club, She Brews Coffee House, Summerside Winery, The Pink House, Walke Brothers Meats and XS Smokers.

Participating stores are: A Gallery of the Arts, Ann & Barbara’s, Bike-About Bicycles, Boarding House Books, Burlap Closet, Cozy Cottage, Cranberry Merchant, District on Main, Dorothy’s Flowers, Fatpants Alley, Grapevine, Hillary’s Boutique, Homeward Bound, Iron & Pottery Connection, LoliPop: A Sweet Boutique, North Block Common, Outwest Home Décor, Rhapsody Faith and Fashion, Sailor Antiques, Thrift Harbor, Vintique Charm and Boutique, Waterfront Frame and Willow Tree.

Signs directing attendees throughout the event will be placed along the streets on the night of the event.

Additionally, flag art depicting train safety, designed by fourth-graders in Claremore, will be on display. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite flag during Sip, Savor & Shop. The flag art is made possible by Union Pacific Railroad.

Sip, Savor & Shop: Taste of Claremore is hosted by Claremore Main Street and the Claremore Area Chamber of Commerce, both of which are non-profit organizations in town. Proceeds of the event go to support the organization’s individual missions.

It is sponsored by the City of Claremore, and RCB Bank.

For more information, visit or call Claremore Main Street at 918-341-5881.

Spring Cash Mob supports school supply program

Downtown Claremore was mobbed earlier this month – mobbed by a group of local supporters who were eager to spend money at the bimonthly Cash Mob.

Shoppers flocked to The Grapevine, 404 W. Will Rogers Blvd., for the event and spent nearly $900 in less than an hour.

The Cash Mob is hosted by Claremore Main Street. Ten percent of the proceeds from the night were donated to the United Methodist Church’s School Supply Program, the nonprofit chosen by the mobbers on the night of the Cash Mob.

“We loved having the Cash Mob come and support our store and the wonderful vendors we have,” said Jeannie Smith, owner of The Grapevine.

“To show our appreciation for what the Cash Mob did for us, we were very honored to make a donation to the school supply program,” she added.

​Last year, UMC’s School Supply Program helped 3,215 children – more than a quarter of all public school children in Rogers County – with their school supplies.

“This will send five-and-a-half kids to school with full supplies,” UMC Pastor Ray Crawford said of the $100 donation. “They are just giving them a pencil and notebook.”

Participants in the Cash Mob agree to attend every other month and spend at minimum $20 at the store chosen at random the night of the event. The goal is to encourage shopping local and the downtown businesses’ success and to support local nonprofits.

The final Cash Mob of the 2015-16 season will be at 5:30 p.m. June 7. To participate in the final one, sign up here.

NEW BUSINESS: True Gospel returns to Claremore, sets up downtown

After working for a heart doctor for 21 years, Joyce Johnson had a new vision: a Christian book and music store and ministry.

“The need to reach people and have a ministry,” she explained as her reasons for beginning True Gospel in Bartlesville 32 years ago. “It’s not just a store. It’s my life and my ministry.”

True Gospel II opened its doors in Claremore again in March after a hiatus while owner Joyce concentrated on her store in Owasso. The store, which used to be in NeMar Center, is now at 322 W. Will Rogers Blvd.

“We decided to come back. I know there’s a need over here. I know because I hear a lot of it in Owasso,” Joyce said. “Our whole motto is ‘one more soul, one more song.’”

​Guests at True Gospel II can find Bibles, books, CDs, gifts, gift baskets, church supplies as well as kids, youth and teen items. Each category is neatly packed into its own room within the store – perfect for quickly locating your item or browsing through the rooms.

“We not only carry the new releases and best sellers but also we carry the older classics, especially in music,” Joyce said.

She’s able to have both stores, she said, because she’s blessed with good help at each location that allows her to go between the two.

“God has put us downtown for a lot of reasons,” she said. “The reason I wanted Claremore was because I knew they needed a Christian book store. I felt the need. The Lord just opened the door so we could be downtown.”

Additionally, the music ensemble Joyce Johnson and Friends can be found on 99.5 FM radio every Sunday morning and CDs of the group can be purchased at the store.

She said one of things that sets True Gospel II apart from big chain stores is the personal touches, helping a customer or offering to pray with someone.

“[I love] serving people, meeting new people and making friends, that’s the biggest thing,” Joyce said.

True Gospel II is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except on Wednesdays, when the store closes at 5 p.m.

FEATURE FRIDAY: Brother-sister duo fuels future for Melton Sales

Robert Melton II and Amy Gordon grew up in the car sales business.

As fourth-generation Meltons, Rob and Amy remember summers pulling weeds along the sidewalk near their father’s car lot in downtown Claremore.

Today, the brother and sister duo work together, along with five other family members, to run the now 70-year-old company, Melton Sales, 200 N. Lynn Riggs Blvd.

Rob and Amy work closely with each another and well with their father, uncle and cousins to run, each bringing a separate strength to the table.

Rob, the general manager, said his parents actually discouraged them from joining the family business. After attending the University of Arkansas, he started leaning toward working in poultry sales in the state.
“I realized it was either selling chickens or selling cars, and I had the fuel in my blood,” he explained. “I didn’t realize it until being away, and probably if my parents had pushed me to do this, I would not be here.”

Amy, however, said she always knew she would come back. After a few years in fashion merchandising post-college, she returned and is now the operations manager.

In the late 1990s, the Internet began to revolutionize the way car sales worked, and Melton Sales was at the cutting edge of it as one of the first five dealers to put its inventory online. In fact, it was the first to list prices.

“It blew people’s minds,” Amy said.

Listing at a lower cost than many competitors, Melton Sales began selling all over the country through the internet. While those sales still come in, Rob and Amy have since refocused back to their roots here in Rogers County.

“We want to be able to serve the people that are here locally,” Amy said. “Our goal is to sell to the Green Country community and Claremore.”

In addition to selling new and used vehicles, the company provides full service maintenance and repairs on all makes and models. Additionally, Melton Xpress Lube is open six day a week with no appointment necessary.

Tires and auto accessories are also available at Melton. In April, the business is running a “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” deal on tires.

While the car sales business isn’t without its hardships, Amy said there is nothing like the buzz of a busy showroom to keep her spirits up and the love for her job intact.

“There’s nothing like the highs,” she said.

FEATURE FRIDAY: Thrift Harbor benefits children’s home and local community

Sitting in a pew at church in January of 2011, Kim Prock’s life changed.

The announcement had been made that Hope Harbor, a home for at-risk youth just outside Claremore, would be opening a resale store in downtown Claremore.

“I had been wondering, ‘what should I be doing with my life,’ … so I signed up to volunteer,” said Kim, the manager at Thrift Harbor, 316 W. Will Rogers Blvd. “I slowly realized this was where I needed to be, and it’s been good.”

Proceeds from Thrift Harbor in Claremore, and their brand new location in Bartlesville, benefit Hope Harbor.

The vision for Hope Harbor began in 1947 as the Turley Children’s Home. The mission is to serve at-risk youth and their families. Boys and girls in the program live at different cottages, attend school and receive counseling all on the Hope Harbor campus. Additionally, parents receive training and support to strengthen and stabilize the home environment.

“I grew up knowing about it. My grandpa was a supporter of it when I was a little girl, and he’d … say a portion of this goes to Turley Children’s Home,” Kim said. “It’s kind of nice to think that your grandfather had something to do with it 50 years ago.”

Kim helped get the store up and running while working at Chico’s in Tulsa, but when she was asked to become the manager of Thrift Harbor, she took the opportunity.

The store celebrated its fifth birthday in March of this year. It was voted the Best Resale Store in Rogers County in 2015.

“I wanted it to not only benefit Hope Harbor; I wanted it to be a good thing for the Claremore community,” she said. “Clothes can make you feel good … I think we are doing what my personal mission was to really help people who couldn’t afford new items to feel better about themselves.”

“We try to put out clothing that we would put our own children or ourselves in,” she added.

Kim said she regularly hears stories about how the reduced prices at Thrift Harbor for Christmas or back-to-school items have allowed local families to reallocate funds to family time or other necessities.

“I hear stories just about every week. It inspires me to think that this store really helps budgets and for people to be able to afford nice pieces,” she said.

Further, she said she loves seeing the liveliness of downtown Claremore change and grow in the last five years.

“We’ve grown a lot in the five years we’ve seen downtown and I can see that it’s going to continue,” she said. “Now, it’s real exciting to see all the cute boutiques and all that’s happening down here. Anytime you have all this growth down here, it creates all this energy.”

Thrift Harbor accepts donations of almost kinds. For various reasons, employees cannot accept mattresses, baby car seats, helmets, TVs or gas-powered items. The store, however, always needs more knick-knacks and decorations, Kim said.

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