Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blue Jackalope Grocery & Coffee

Occasionally I'll meet someone that I just instantly know I'm friends with. (My current hippie cubicle mate Joe is one, so was my homeboy Isaac [aka TrueSeed aka Dallas' second coming of hip-hop]... so was Megan for that matter.) Scott Smith, owner, proprietor, progenitor and visionary of and behind Blue Jackalope Grocery and Coffee in Tulsa is my new friend.

Scott's mission is as follows (more or less): revitalize the neighborhood he loves and make enough money to stay alive while doing it. The former he's got down pat, the latter is more negotiable. He's one of the driving forces behind the Healthy Corner Store movement in OK, and an advocate of food security through cooperative retail spaces. Scott and the volunteer crew at Blue Jackalope run the only shopping destination available to many residents of Crosbie Heights. There just aren't other grocery stores in the old North Tulsa neighborhood.

This year, Scott (in partnership with other Tulsa non-profits) is opening 5 more cooperative Healthy Corner Stores and a cooperative distribution center to harness group buying power. They'll all be in low income North Tulsa neighborhoods, they all take SNAP and WIC benefits, and they all sell real food, a lot of it local and most of it healthy. No beer, no smokes, no lottery tickets.

Blue Jackalope's very presence has already created change on the street. Since their opening, other stuff is starting to crop up: a community garden across the street and a bike collective next door. They have neighborhood barbecues on Sunday afternoons, punk/metal/folk shows on Friday nights and just general hanging-out-ness all the time. It's very laid back, low key, and filled with a mix of crusty hippies, old ladies and little kids from the neighborhood, and (like us) the occasional liberal food tourist come to check out what can be done for people who can't do for themselves when one person decides to act.

Oh, and the coffee? Fantastic espresso shots. Local roaster, nice machine, cool baristas - laid back hippies, not hipsters - smooth and rich crema. I had two over ice (my benchmark drink) and I very much enjoyed it.

If you do the facebook thing, theirs is here.


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