(Sign hanging above the cash register at the Country Store)
When the Country Store opened on 11th Street in Tulsa nearly 40 years ago, it was, in fact, in the country.
Four decades of urban sprawl later, the Country Store’s location on historic Route 66 is considered part of midtown Tulsa. Farmers are an endangered species, and most of the city’s gardeners are out in the suburbs: Jenks, Bixby, Broken Arrow.
A perfect storm of big-box stores, urban sprawl, heavy debt, and crop-scorching drought is bearing down on the longtime Tulsa institution and its third-generation owner, Bill Sivadon, and barring any last-minute miracles, it looks as if the business may close for good.
Sivadon and his wife, Kathey — pictured above — reported Tuesday that the store is set to close any day. If they can sell off their remaining stock at retail prices, they may be able to raise enough to pay off their debt and save the business — but time is of the essence. Their creditors have been poised to pull the plug for the past week or so. Wait a day — or even a few hours — and it may be too late to buy one last souvenir and make one last effort to help keep a Route 66 institution alive.
Bill said there is an off chance he may be able to reopen in 30 days, although the odds are slim.
Despite the impending closure of his family’s business — which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005 — Bill is not bitter. He harbors no ill will toward his creditors, whom he calls “good people” who extended deadlines and helped him as far as they could, and if he’s worried about his future, he isn’t letting it show.
(Sign taped to the glass in the front door of the Country Store)
“The Lord’s taken care of me for 57 years, and I don’t think he’s gonna stop now,” Bill says.
He will, however, miss his customers, many of whom have become friends.
We know the feeling.