Burlap Closet

Feature Friday: Family, fashion at the core of Burlap Closet

Owning her own boutique had always been a pipe dream for Katrina Pope, a preschool teacher by day.

But through encouragement from her husband, Bobby, Katrina opened The Burlap Closet at 405 W. Will Rogers Blvd. in August of 2014.

“It was one of those ‘someday, I would like to if I could.’ My husband just pushed me into it. He said, ‘this is what you were born to do,’” she laughed. “Because I love shopping; I love putting outfits together, and I love helping people put outfits together.”

“So, after a few anxiety attacks … we got this place.”


Katrina said she knew she wanted her store to be downtown. So where does a school-teacher go to get advice on how to get in downtown?
She went straight to Chelsea Mize, owner of the Cranberry Merchant and Katrina’s child’s former teacher. Chelsea gave her a heads up on that 405 W. Will Rogers was opening up, and Katrina was sealing the deal that night.

“I love what downtown is turning out to be. I can see where it’s going,” she said. “Everyone is different. No one is the same … you get to show more of your personality, and it’s like a little community.”

Katrina, a mother of three, had little experience as a store owner. She was a loan officer prior to having children, stayed home with her littles one until they went off to school and then became a preschool teacher so her hours mirrored those of her children.

“It was a huge learning curve,” she said. “But I love this. My kids can come up here to help me …

It’s something that as they get older can be a family business.”

Her two girls are already talking about follow in their mother’s footsteps – They plan to open their own boutique during college – about seven years from now.

Follow Burlap Closet on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

The Willow Tree Mall

Feature Friday: ‘We felt like we were being led’ to The Willow Tree

In the summer of 2013, Amy Cannon was looking for a change in her life.

“I had done nonprofit fundraising for a long time … and was needing something different. We just began to pray about a door opening and The Willow Tree came available,” Amy explained. “Within two weeks, I quit my job and started running a business.”

“Everything I’ve done in my life has led to this place where I am now,” she said.

A year later, Amy needed to find a business partner to help with the store, and again, fate gave her exactly what she was looking for. Elementary school teacher Rhonda Cole, who had a booth in The Willow Tree, jumped at the opportunity. Cole retired from teaching to work full time in the store in May of this year.
“That’s how we met,” Rhonda said. “We found out a lot of things about us that are similar.”

The similarities go back to their childhoods. Both women grew up in southeastern Oklahoma, less than 30 miles from each other. They knew some of the same families and share a passion for what they do.

“It’s a small world,” Amy echoed. “It’s a plus that we’ve gelled so well together. If I have a weakness, Rhonda is usually strong in that area.”

“Oh, you mean like balancing a checkbook?” Rhonda joked.

While the two were mere acquaintances prior to the business partnership, they became fast friends. Watching them together at the store, the women laugh and joke as if they’ve known each other a lifetime instead of 15 months.

Rhonda and Amy describe the store as a “family affair” because their husbands and children can often be seen behind the cash register.

The mall, which touts itself as the “mall with it all,” houses about 70 vendors, including paint, dips, holiday decorations, clothing, antiques and household décor.

“We are a praying group. We prayed about everything,” Amy said. “We were putting a lot of faith in God … we felt like we were being led to do what we’ve done.”

“It is amazing how every detail has worked out for it to be perfect,” Rhonda said.

The Willow Tree is participating in the first Highway 20 Junk & Drive, which is a 45-mile junk sale including four communities – Skiatook, Collinsville, Claremore and Pryor. It began Oct. 22 and extends through Oct. 24. Hundreds of antiquers from across the tristate area are expected to make the trek down Highway 20 this inaugural year.

Visit Willow Tree on Facebook!

Feature Friday: Creativity shines at The Grapevine

While each holding a full time job, Jeannie Smith and Richard Bowen spent two months tirelessly renovating 404 W. Will Rogers Blvd., now home to their store, The Grapevine.

“We wanted to make each individual booth creative in itself,” Jeannie said. “So every time we went to build one booth, we were specific to that one; ‘what can we do in this one that is different?’”

When they had a power surge, blowing out all their lights as well as their heater, they put on multiple layers and coats and continued to work through the setback. After two intense months of late-night renovations, the Grapevine opened in April of 2014.

Looking around the store, the owners’ effort and detail are apparent – from the paint colors that mimic the store’s name to the front counter made by hand.

The original plan was create a home for people to sell items they’ve created or repurposed, which was what Smith and Bowen like to do in their spare time.

“Then after a while, we just started expanding with different things coming in and making it more of a variety,” Jeannie said.

The Grapevine now supports 45 vendors, each bringing a different type of product, including jewelry, dry rubs, pet clothing, wood cutting boards, hand-sewn items and household decorations.

“I like to see the creativity … It’s amazing,” Jeannie said. “People are so creative and to see the uniqueness and the way each individual person can take something and see if different than somebody else.”

The crafty boutique is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Follow The Grapevine on Facebook!

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.

Follow The Cranberry Merchant on Facebook!

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.”