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Local & Regional

North Tulsa Food Desert Ends With Grocery Store Opening

A new grocery store has opened in North Tulsa in an area that hasn’t had reliable access to fresh produce since 2014.

In an emotional speech given today at the grand opening of Oasis Fresh Market on North Peoria, District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper described a long fight. 

"We had to form a moratorium to stop - not the existence of dollar stores, I've never said that - but rather the proliferation of dollar stores that we now know force grocery stores to close, creating food deserts," said Hall-Harper.

In 2018, Tulsa City Council mandated that dollar stores in certain sections of north Tulsa be one mile apart. 

Dollar stores have been steadily on the rise. Experts say they intentionally target low-income areas with clusters of stores mainly offering processed foods. That competition makes it tough for full-service groceries to get a foothold.

Rose Washington, Board Chair for Tulsa Regional Chamber, highlighted some  other difficulties of opening the store. 

"Well, we started with one ownership group and had to move to another," said Washington. "Satisfying the community with engagement, recruiting minority subcontractors to participate in construction, working with the wholesaler...just things you take for granted. We had to push through to get here."

Washington said she isn't worried about the store making enough money to stay open.

"I know based on our homework, the council of experts who have been in this business: we have the right-sized business, we have the right ownership, we have the right products, and it's in the very best location."

Oasis Fresh Market is a project of the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation and several large donors.