Owners of the Buy for Less company announced late Friday that they intend to open an Uptown Grocery on the east side of Oklahoma City near NE 36th and N Kelley.
The store opening is planned to happen in 60 to 90 days.
Updated late Friday
Free Press broke the story about a store in the Buy for Less company, the Smart Saver at NE 23rd and Martin Luther King Avenue being closed at the end of the day Monday, August 5 after informing the employees only a few days before on Tuesday, July 30 late in the day.
The store was the last full-service grocery in the area bounded by I-40, I-35, I-44, and I-235, the area traditionally thought of as the “east side” of the city. The area is now considered a food desert even though there are some limited inventory stores and convenience stores in the area.
The announcement was made through a series of videos first posted on Pastor Derrick Scobey’s Facebook page. Scobey is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church within a block of the shopping center.
The informal videos show husband and wife team Hank and Susan Binkowski in the worship center of the church with Scobey as he does all of the talking in short videos released Friday afternoon just to make the announcement.
Scobey’s post said the video interview with the Binkowskis was promised later Friday “around 5:30.” When that video is released, we will update this story.
Attempts to contact a Buy for Less company spokesperson were unsuccessful.
Negotiations this week
Scobey said that he, Pastor John Reed, Jr., Senior Pastor of Fairview Baptist Church and the church’s associate Pastor Derrick Walter had been in talks with the Binkowskis in one way or the other for “around 30 hours” this week.
He said that at one point he wondered if they would get to an agreement.
When pastors, politicians and other community leaders gathered earlier in the week there was enough of a disconnect between the Binkowskis and the leaders that most got up and walked out.
Scobey said the meeting “got combustible” and that’s when many walked out. The ones remaining were Scobey, Walter, and Kenneth Sherrill, pastor of the Greater New Zion Baptist Church.
After the talks continued on past the meeting, there continued to be progress until today’s commitment by the Binkowskis.
He was careful to credit Reed with providing leadership in the community and in the talks with the Binkowskis.
“I want to make sure that he [Reed] is acknowledged as the leader,” said Scobey.
He said that Reed brings “lots of hard influence … because he has opened the door in areas…” of the community and in faith for many people.
Update – Video conversation
The video conversation the Binkowskis had with Pastor Rev. Kenneth Sherrill, and Pastor Derrick Scobey was released later in the evening after our story ran. It is a production of Ebenezer Baptist Church that Scobey leads and reflects the negotiated understanding between the Binkowskis and the pastors who continued to work patiently toward their goal of getting another full-service grocery store on the east side of the city.
The video can be viewed HERE.
As suggested by this video, significant new understandings are now in place between the Binkowskis and clerical leadership on the east side:
- Even though it’s called an Uptown Grocery, it will be in a space that is only 20,000 feet compared to the 50,000 other Uptown stores have. Half the square feet will reduce the selection of groceries found in the store.
- Along with that, Susan Binkowski continues to lead with positive statements about deliveries, which have an extra fee. This was a concept she pushed immediately after Buy for Less closed the Smart Saver at NE 23rd and Martin Luther King.
- According to Scobey, the Binkowskis have agreed not to have the 10 percent upcharge that customers had to pay at the Smart Saver that just closed.
UPDATED: 11:20 p.m., August 16, 2019.
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