Go, Go Gadget

When Jerry Parkhurst decided to move his novelty shop The Gadget Company from its cozy spot in Utica Square to the corner of 15th and Boston, across the street from the Tulsa County Bar Association and the Tulsa Center for Fertility, he did so with some trepidation.
And he was pleasantly surprised when the move actually improved his business.
When Parkhurst locked up his store on Christmas Eve of last year, he ended its 20-year history at Utica Square and, in January, opened the door to a new adventure.
Parkhurst said he feared the shop was losing some of its uniqueness during its tenure at Utica Square.
“The original concept was to fill the store with things I like to play with,” said Parkhurst.
He carries items like high-end fly fishing and camping equipment by Orvis; Leica cameras, writing utensils and binoculars; outdoor apparel and Swiss Army and luxury handcrafted pocketknives.
But, due to the nature of Utica Square’s clientele, he found himself stocking the shelves with items he thought would make his customers happy, and he said the store became less about what he enjoyed and more about what he thought other people might like.
He stocked household wares he thought might appeal to the women who frequented other Utica Square shops who would stop in his store as they made their rounds. And due to the high traffic of kids hanging out at Utica Square after their days at Cascia Hall Preparatory School and Monte Casino School ended, Parkhurst began carrying more kid- and teenager-friendly inventory.
The end result was a loss in revenue and a loss of sense of self.
Parkhurst chose his store’s new spot because of its close proximity to his other business, Mrs. DeHaven’s Flower Shop, 106 E. 15th St., which he’s owned since 1977.
Though there was a certain amount of visibility and foot traffic that came from being situated in Utica Square, Parkhurst said he thinks The Gadget Company gets more walk-in business at its new location than it did at its old.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Parkhurst said. “The business has grown since I’ve been here. I’ve had an unbelievable amount of new business due to the visibility of this new location.”
He said folks see his store’s window displays as they drive down 15th Street or Boston Avenue and, more often than not, they stop in to see what he has to offer.
In fact, during Parhurst’s interview with Tulsa Business Journal, a couple from northwest Arkansas, who had been across the street at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, came into the store to see what The Gadget Company was all about.
They said they make a Tulsa a Christmas shopping destination every year after Thanksgiving and that they would be back to visit Parkhurst’s store then.
“See?” Parkhurst said. “Happens every day.”
Parkhurst sees his corner of 15th and Boston as an extension of Cherry Street, the mile of 15th between Peoria and Utica Avenues bustling with retail outlets, restaurants, coffee shops and homes.
He says he’s seeing more development near his stores and is excited about future growth.
“This place was a ghost town a couple of years ago. It was dark and lonely,” he said. “Now, it’s really vibrant.”
The Gadget Company reported record sales for the summer of this year, said Parkhurst, and he’s hopeful his good fortune will continue.
“I’m concerned about the holidays,” he admitted. “Things are as great as they’ve ever been, but I say that with some caution.”
Although the economy may have a negative effect on his sales this Christmas season, his new location shouldn’t.
“(The move) has been a very positive thing,” Parkhurst said. “I’ve had absolutely nothing but positive feedback from my loyal customers. Not one person has said, ‘Gosh, Jerry, that was a really dumb thing you did.’
“I expected that, but I haven’t received one comment.”

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