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North Tulsa Grocery Store Thriving After Rough Start

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A shopper looks at the meat selection at the Gateway Market Sunday. A shopper looks at the meat selection at the Gateway Market Sunday.
Gateway Market Owner Antonio Perez endured unique struggles since opening. Gateway Market Owner Antonio Perez endured unique struggles since opening.
A Gateway Market shopper. A Gateway Market shopper.
Perez dropped his prices to better match his customers' needs. Perez dropped his prices to better match his customers' needs.

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A North Tulsa business is celebrating a milestone many people doubted would ever happen. Sunday is Gateway Market's one year anniversary.

01/16/2010 Related Story: New Grocery Store Opens In North Tulsa

It's a typical grocery store at Pine and Peoria that has endured unique struggles since opening.

Gateway Market is thriving, but the owner says the first six months were pretty shaky.

"People thought that we were going to disappear right away, so they didn't feel comfortable leaving the store they were used to going to and coming here, then finding out the store was going to disappear," said owner Antonio Perez.

Talking with customers helped. Early on, Perez dropped his prices to better match his customers' needs.

"I didn't know what the community needed, what they consumed, what they wanted. But now we do, because they've been telling us 'okay, you need to have this, you need to have that," Perez said.

That same feedback from the community, along with city leaders, got Gateway here.

North Tulsans had been without a grocery store for two and a half years, when it finally opened in the former Albertson's building.

Tina Orban is now a regular.

"It's within reach of my house and the prices, I just love it, and they have great sales. About every week they have a good sale going on," Orban said.

Perez says the store sees an average of 950 customers a day and sales are up 20 percent since opening day.

Jeff Jones has worked here for six months.

"Here, you have a real tight-knit community. You know half the people who come through here, they know you, they remember you, they're not afraid to come up and ask you for stuff. It's really a great place to work," Jones said.

The owner says Gateway is here for good, because the store understands the community and the community understands it.

The owner has two big plans for this year.

The first is to finally open a bakery and he's also considering opening a Mexican food restaurant in the same area.

He wants to see how customers react to the idea before moving forward.

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