BY C.L. Harmon/Publisher
With all the focus lately on the new business sector in town, which I have heard dubbed as “Mike’s Mall”, I thought it would be nice to spotlight a couple of new businesses that have revived a couple of old buildings. As a lover of old things, I prefer a twist on the old saying to convey, ‘Out with the new and in with the old.” Not really out of course, but one gets the gist.
For those of us 45 years of age and older who grew up in Mannford and spent the early 80’s hanging around town, the smell of nachos in the air, Eddie Money’s Shakin’ filling the air waves and the distinct sound of a foosball slapping the backsplash on a “fire in the hole” score know what I am talking about as I stood in the old building that used to be the arcade.
It’s nice to see old buildings come to life again with a vibrancy of excitement from the entrepreneur and a dream of success. Of the two new businesses both have recently opened their doors to welcome new customers. The first is Keystone Liquors, located next to Steer Inn at Woodcrest Plaza and the second is Mannford Lawn & Garden. Both new businesses are excited to serve the public, but one might ought to visit them in the correct order; buy the lawn mower first, mow the yard and then visit the liquor store. Going to the liquor store first and then mowing the yard might just land you as the focus of a front page story such as MUI, mowing a city street under the influence or a headline that reads “Drunk Man Loses Arms After Attempting To Change Lawn Mower Blades With Deck Engaged”.
Keystone Liquors is the first business we will mention. It is owned and operated by Tracy Watson, who has been a resident of Mannford since he was teenager. He graduated from MHS in 1979 and has lived locally since 1974 after moving from Drumright.
Watson was a large hydraulic crane operator for 16 years and travelled extensively. He decided he had seen enough and wanted more of a normal life so it was time to come home. A friend suggested that he open a liquor store and he agreed. He likes the location and felt it would be a good location, and so on May 25 he opened his doors and offered the world a drink.
“I think business has been good so far. But to be honest, I don’t really know what good is,” he quipped. He has never ventured into the liquor sales business and so he is learning as he goes, he explained. According to is wholesalers though, his inventory is moving the way it should be.
He is hoping that a new law that could pass in November will have a tremendous impact on his investment in the liquor business. The bill, if passed by voters, would allow wine and strong beer to be sold at grocery and convenience stores, along with allowing liquor stores to sell cold beer and wine and non-alcoholic products like soda, ice, mixers and corkscrews.
He is also planning on expanding the inside of the store with an assortment of local wines and more varieties of unique brands and liquors. He believes that his location is a key to his success. He believes with all of the lake development and the growing popularity of the lake and his proximity to it, that his business will only continue to grow.
Next we have Mannford Lawn & Garden which is now occupying the old arcade building I mentioned earlier located at 140 Coonrod Ave. Instead of the sounds of Pac-Man and Turbo from old, people will now hear the sounds of Jessika Morgan selling lawn and yard equipment, along with the many other items needed to give that yard a manicure and a pedicure.
The owners of the store are Leonard and Debbra Morris who come from Fairview, Oklahoma where they own and operate another store that they have had for 17 years. Leonard will divide his time between both stores taking care of the service side of the business for both of them. He is a master tech and works on all different types of small engines and yard equipment. Jessika will remain at Mannford location taking care of customers.
“There has been a major transformation of this building in the last two months. We have done all of this work in that short amount of time. We went from what was a cabinet shop to what you see here,” Leonard said. He explained that there is still much they wish to do, but those things will come in time. “I anticipate that we will be here for a very long time to come,” he added. We are already starting to see some work flow in and even sold a lawn mower before they even opened for business. They officially opened on August 12. They can offer financing and though have a small inventory at the moment, are still awaiting some of their stock.
Leonard said that if U-Haul becomes available, that they will certainly consider carrying that service as well. In addition, carrying flowers is also something it may offer in the future. They carry them at the Fairview store and it is handled by Debbra. So when you’re in town, stop by an old place and make a new memory and a new friend at Mannford’s newest establishments. And remember, only neighbors treat you like neighbors.