Trade was founded in 2013 by a group of like minded people that felt OKC needed a different type of mens retail store. We began as a small popup shop off 8th and Broadway and then expanded into the space at 11th and Walker in Midtown District, OKC. In Mid 2016 the partnership decided they could no longer invest the time, energy and effort it took to keep a small business running. This is when I stepped up, bought out the remaining partners and became the sole-proprietor of TRADE. I thought back to one of the key influences in my life and decided I wanted to make a place that my grandfather would have loved to visit. A place he could stop in, swap some skuttlebutt and then carry on with his day. A place where family and community could grow, thrive and support one another as they did. With that in mind, we closed for a few weeks and made some adjustments to lay out the new direction for our ship. At that time we did not give a date as to when we would reopen. We wanted to ensure that we were adequately prepared, with every screw fastened and every bolt torqued to the proper specs. That turned out to be a wise move. Things never go as smoothly as you plan and we ended up needing extra time to get all the new products in and get everything set just right.
We reopened into an election year and things were interesting, to say the least. The road closures through midtown disrupted the whole district and 2019 hammered us with severe weather and horrific storms. What many don’t know is that year was far and above one of the hardest years I have ever endured. To maintain our nautical symbolism, I was tied to the mast and given the full lashing. It wore me down, body and soul. During this time we acknowledged that our lease in Midtown would be ending in July of 2020 and we began looking for a space. We knew that, even though it had been a year of beatings, the business would continue because we had found our North Star and we were navigating true. It was during this time that we made the decision that we wanted to do more to support veterans. These brave souls have put their lives on the line and regardless how they served they had life experiences that often lead to the need for support. We saw that mental health and issues surrounding it were much deeper and widespread and we wanted to do our part to lend a hand. With this new mindset we powered forward, we just had to get the ship to dry dock and scrape off some of the barnacles. The United States Navy cycles ships through dry dock every 7 years to ensure quality and seaworthiness. So we are right on schedule to get in, get scrubbed down and get back out there.
There were some days we just didn’t know how it would all come together but we kept searching for that port that would take us out of the storm. Fast forward a few months, around Valentine’s Day 2020, news of a virus was circulating, and we were told travelling could put us at risk. At the time, we didn’t think much of it but then we noticed the normal crowd and sales were just gone. Not cut, not slowed, not gradually declining, just gone. St. Patrick’s Day weekend came along and we decided it was time to close to the public. We did not know the full extent of the situation, misinformation and half truths were running rampant, but we wanted to be as responsible as possible with the information we had. This was a decision we did not take lightly, and together my wife Samantha and I made the decision together for, at the time, to close all three of our businesses.
The next several months were a day to day grind, as we watch the things that had taken years to develop fade away. I tried to counter with a false positivity that quickly became toxic to myself and those around me. So I dug deep and called back to training from bootcamp and military school: “Take things one step at a time. Plan the next step carefully. Always strive to move forward with honor, courage, and commitment.” These teachings were ingrained into my brain forever, thanks to Petty Officer First Class Davidson. (Hooray, wherever you are today sir.) This mindset is useful and it can be used to overcome the problems ahead, but like false positivity it begins to wear. It takes a toll on you, your family, and your partner. These are the silent battles we fight as small business owners. When we have to balance the fate of the business with the fate of our families. Children don’t understand why dad is less smiling and snuggling and more focused and guarded. The list seems endless and this is something that most small business owners feel, but the love and passion for what they do make it all worth it. Every drop of, literal, blood, sweat and tears shed into something that you not only believe in, but something that you can get others to believe in. Finding that balance is the key to success.
We made it through the reopen post pandemic shutdown and began to see the business rebounding. We saw an expansion of other stores beginning to stock our products, the products we had poured ourselves into. This was the momentum we needed to bounce back and say, “we can do this!” 2019 may have sucked and 2020 has been a mother of naughty word(s), but everyone is taking a hit and if nothing else it has been a gut check on where people stand on matters. When we started the move out and began our relocation, we originally thought that it would be a few down weeks closed and then back to business as usual. No matter how much you plan, 2020 is going to make sure you stay on your toes.
While it may have appeared that we were down and slumbering, we have been working hard as hell behind the scenes. We’ve scraped the hull clean, battened down the hatches and now we have all the bow thruster engines wide open because we are done in dry dock and this battleship is ready to get back to sea. We are proud and excited to announce our new location:
Directly across the street from the Historic Farmers Market building. 219 & 217 S. Kline Ave.
We have always wanted to grow and expand TRADE and the biggest hurdle was simple square footage. The new location is close to 3 times the size of our old spot, so we will have room for all sorts of activities and can stock so much more cool stuff.
We have always loved the Farmers Market as this has been a staple of OKC for so many generations. We believe this area resonates with our motto from day 1: Rugged Sophistication. This OKC architectural icon has been one of our favorite buildings in the city. Whenever we would go see our friends at The Okay See, we would take a few moments to stop and admire it. We could not be more excited to count the folks at The Okay See as neighbors now and look forward to getting to know all the other super awesome other places like Ax Throwing, Palo Santo, Urban Ag, Yoga place, Loaded Bowl, and Power Housel We are excited to join this community and invite you to help us grow it to new heights.
While we finish working on the final details, we encourage you to hop on the website and order some of your favorite TRADE items. We need your support to keep things flowing as we put our all into this new store. We promise you won’t be disappointed with the final product.