QUARTER CENTURY OF SUCCESS
If you have driven into downtown Jenks coming from the Arkansas River bridge in the past 25 years, you have become familiar with one of the staples in the Jenks area, River City Trading Post.
The River City Trading Post celebrated its 25th birthday on April 4 of this year, but the building on third and Main Street hasn’t always been the trading post.
In 1961, the old Jenks High School was demolished to make room for Parkers Grocery Store. Dewey and Marguerite Parker moved their grocery business from first and Main Street to the new building location in 1963.
Parkers Grocery occupied the west half of the building and Wackers occupied the east half. Wackers was a TG&Y Dime store. The newly located grocery store doubled in size several years later when Parkers Grocery took over the east half of the building as well.
In 1974, the Parkers retired and sold their business to Wells Food Store. Wells Food Store eventually sold out to Super H Foods and in 1993, after Super H closed, Parker, who still owned the building, was deciding whether to put a vintage/antique type mall or retail fire damaged, overstocked type of business in the location.
Steve and Linda Eaton entered into discussions with Parker and decided that an antique/vintage mall would work in Jenks. Contractors were then hired to get the booths built for the new store.
On April 4, 1994, seven years after Steve and Linda Eaton were married, they opened River City Trading Post. Multiple vendors contacted the Eatons wanting to reserve a booth spot.
“I thought the best fit for the store was in Jenks,” Steve Eaton said. “Learning the business was a nightmare because every thing was new for us.”
Today, the River City Trading Post is home to 300 plus independent vendors with an eclectic mixture of antiques, uniques and collectibles. The vendors are the movers and shakers, who take great pride in stocking their booths with interesting, desirable and affordable merchandise.
“We have really developed into a well-oiled machine over the last couple of years,” Linda Eaton said. “It took a lot of trial and error to get there, but its been really smooth lately. We have even had some celebrities come and visit the store and sometimes we didn’t even know it. Kid Rock came in, Miranda Lambert came in, Alice Cooper came in and HGTV even came in and shot some footage here in our store.”
The River City Trading Post was voted the No. 1 antique store by the citizens of Tulsa in the Tulsa People magazine and Urban Tulsa magazine. The store has also won awards with the Tulsa World and Greater Tulsa Reporter Newspapers.
“We have learned to evolve with what works,” Steve said. “Our vendors evolve as well.
Despite online shopping become increasingly popular, the Eatons say it hasn’t affected their sales much at all.
“I was a little nervous about Pinterest when that become popular,” Linda said. “And actually, Pinterest has helped us because people will get the vision from Pinterest and then come here and look for the materials to create it. We are also very fortunate to have the people working for us that do. We don’t have a big employee turnover here. They all just love coming to work and it isn’t just a job for them. Most of our employees actually have booths as well. We do not have a booth because we don’t want to take anything away from our vendors and our vendors really appreciate that.”