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Behold, The Boxyard

The Boxyard is a collection of “micro-retail”

Greg Bollinger

On December 10, Tulsa heralded the opening of The Boxyard, a multi-purpose retail center built entirely of repurposed shipping containers that have crisscrossed the world over. They now house hip purveyors selling everything from boutique apparel and beard wax to artisan ice cream and nerdy gadgets. There will even be an open-air rooftop cocktail bar named Open Container, courtesy of the guys behind Hodges Bend. 

A project from development company Nelson + Stowe, The Boxyard is one of the few places in town where you can tinker around in a science shop, tweak out on craft coffee, grab gourmet waffles, fill up your water jugs, shop ’til you drop, then give your barking dogs a rest at a neighborhood foot massage parlor, all in one fell swoop (and 17,000 square feet). In other words, it’s awesome. 

Here’s your pocket guide to Boxyard and a few of its curious, quirky shops. 

For the paper pusher who dreams of busting out into something more heady...

Behold, the absolute coolest shop ever of all time: The STEMcell. As a science store for nerds and non-science-y people alike, this place has it all. Feel like growing your own fungus? Give it a shot! Need to refresh your inventory of Bunsen burners and bacteria culture containers? Come on in! Want a child-sized NASA-grade astronaut suit for your little space cadet? Terry Mudge’s store has it, along with countless other grade-A trinkets for testing and experimenting. While they carry a few interactive-play toys for the youngsters, Terry’s store is positively posed for an older audience. Return all your Christmas gifts immediately and buy new ones here.

For the Tulsan who is just. so. damn. PROUD…

There’s Dwelling Spaces, a mecca for all things Tulsa love. As T-Town’s flagship “shop local” store, Dwelling Spaces has made a name for itself selling t-shirts, goods, and collectibles from Okie-owned and operated brands. Fill your shopping bag with out-and-proud TULSA merch, designer outdoor gear, and lapel pins, then snag a cup of coffee from Joebot’s on your way out. 

For the bearded, leather satchel toting man with a taste for the finer things...

Saunter over to East + West. The second arm of Saint Louis’ central west end boutique, East + West is a fashion-flannel man’s happy place. Think premium fabrics, American-made denim, clean design, and elegant durability. East + West sells the sort of functional fashions that today’s Midwest hipster lives in: Americana-cool, with a little vintage twinge. And authentic and premium doesn’t exactly come cheap at East + West, but the guys aren’t too sorry about it, either. As manager Ben Kilgore explains, “We’re basically saying, buy less, but buy better…Some of the stuff in here is going to cost more, but you can use it for the next three years. In the case of some our boots and things, that’s something that you can pass down to your kids.”

For the budding Glamazon who feels like trying out a plunging neckline on New Year’s Eve...

Abelina’s has you covered (though not your décolletage). As the sister women’s wear store to Abelina’s south town location, Abelina’s in The Boxyard is a bit less bridal, and a bit more fabulous party dress. Picture body-con numbers, Iris Apfel-inspired oversized sunglasses, and sequin everything. Abelina’s also has a few floor-length gowns on display for fancier affairs, and middle tier prices mean you can afford to look great at the party and eat before it. 

For the woman who is still perfecting her raggedy two-sizes-too-big-but-chic look...

You’ll want to pop into Modern Mess. The website bills itself as a boutique for the woman who “dresses according to her mood and uses her style as a second language. She is cool and confident while embracing her imperfections, and is not afraid of taking risks.” Aka, the too-drunk twenty something who loves mirrored sunglasses and big crocheted dresses that look like burlap sacks, and who’s always about two cocktails away from adopting a dog. AKA: paradise. Sign me up. 

For the foodie who gets off on being the first to know about new niche concept...

Wirwar (opening soon) will be Tulsa’s only Belgian honky-tonk (what?), and the city’s official HQ for Belgian street food, beer, and hillbilly music (because apparently there is a *YUGE* market for that in Tulsa). Oddities aside, word on the street is that Wirwar will have a serious selection of aiolis, in addition to puffy fries and fluffy waffles. I have no idea how the hillbilly music will fit into the mix here, but I’m excited to take in the view of downtown from Boxyard’s second story and figure it out.

For more from Megan, read her article on Chocolate: The Exhibition at Gilcrease Museum.

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