Do You Remember…Warehouse Market?

Warehouse Market Inc., which was founded by Clint V. Cox, who opened his first grocery store in Tulsa in1938, opened a store in Sapulpa in 1942, at 6 North Main Street, which had previously been the Barrell Food Store. The fledgling company hired the the13-year manager of the Barrell food Store, Mack Dixon, to manage the Sapulpa location. A year later, Warehouse Market moved to 24 South Park “because it was a better location.”

The old downtown Sapulpa location of Warehouse Market

The Park Street location is the one I remember while growing up in downtown Sapulpa. This location made it ideal for the many apartment dwellers in the area.

Carol Jobe said that her elderly grandparents lived in the apartments across the street above Plymouth Drug and that her grandmother did not drive or go out very often, so she sent her husband across the street to buy groceries.

The Creek County jail would call in an order for groceries and one of the Warehouse Market employees would deliver them to the jail. Bill White, who worked at Warehouse Market during high school, said that delivering groceries to the jail was the closest he had ever come to being in jail.

One memorable event that White recalls was that one Sunday they were running a special on watermelons. The small size was 25 cents and the large size was 75 cents. He marked the prices on the watermelon with a grease pencil. The owner of the Dairy Queen came in and asked White to go into the storeroom and pick out a “nice ripe one, a big one.” White came back with the “biggest, ripest one” he could find, and marked it 25 cents. Apparently, the business owner was grateful, because the next time White went to Dairy Queen, his “nickel” ice cream cone had “about 8 inches of ice cream piled on top of it.” “Good karma,” quipped White.

White also remembers that Mack Dixon, on multiple occasions, told him to follow customers who had written a check, to “try and get their license number.” “I wasn’t very good at it and usually got caught.”

Bill Barnes, who also worked there during high school as a stocker, sacker, and carry-out boy, speaks fondly about those days. He recalls sweeping the wooden floors with “oil-infused’ floor sweep and cleaning the counters with ammonia. Barnes remarked that there were no scanners, “We had to put prices with a stamper on all the products.” Another task was to “carry groceries for two or three blocks to a vehicle or to a person’s car.”

I, too, have many memories of Warehouse Market when it was downtown. It was the closest “chain” grocery store to my father’s business, and my dad would send me down there to buy cigarettes at a better price, thus I was a frequent patron. I can still smell the cedar oil floor sweep that was used to clean the floors. It was the same floor sweep that my father used to clean the concrete floors of his store.

I remember that the building had tall, tin ceilings, had no air-conditioning, the aisles were narrow, and the store was crammed full of merchandise. The store had the old-style pop coolers, and the produce was iced down. The storeroom in the back had a conveyor belt leading to the second floor which served as a warehouse.

Even though it was part of a grocery chain, like Safeway, it still had the look and feel of a “mom and pop” grocery store.

In December of 1971, Warehouse Market, Inc. opened a gleaming new 32,000 sq. ft. store on 3 acres at 2020 South Main Street. At the time, it was touted as ”one of the largest supermarkets in Northeastern Oklahoma.” It was the 16th supermarket for Warehouse Market, Inc., and was the largest one besides a location in Oklahoma City. The store at 24 South Park Street stayed in operation until the early part of 1972.

Mack Dixon retired as manager of the Sapulpa Warehouse Market in January 1973. In a local newspaper interview in February 1973, Dixson shared his thoughts about being a grocery store manager for 45 years. He commented on the fact that in all those years he was “never hijacked…I was just lucky,” he said. “I really have no complaints about the store managing business.”

Dixon stated that managing stores was the only type of business he would have been happy doing. “I never considered doing anything else.”

Warehouse Market continued to serve Sapulpa for nearly another half-century until September of 2020, when the Sapulpa Warehouse Market became Price Mart, as the result of a new marketing strategy by Warehouse Market, Inc.

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Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler is a contributing writer for Sapulpa Times.