The Norman Transcript

March 17, 2013

Norman Crest store 35 years in the making

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — At Crest Foods groundbreaking in University North Park, Bruce Harroz said his family had wanted to build a Norman store for more than 35 years. This will be their eighth store when it opens in the fall.

Bruce Harroz and his father and store founder Nick Harroz turned shovels of dirt along with local dignitaries. The ceremony included Fr. John Salem of St. Elijah Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City.

After the dirt was turned, Fr. Salem slipped off from the party and began sprinkling holy water on the constuction site. He also put a small cross in a piece of concrete that was just poured.

Crest Foods entry into Norman is the latest in a growing grocery store market grab. It comes after a survey a few years ago that found Norman was underserved by grocery stores.

It would be hard to make that case anymore. Within a three-mile radius are 2 Wright’s IGA stores, Homeland, a relatively new Super Target, Wal-Mart Super Center, a new Wal-Mart on Rock Creek Road and 36th Avenue NW, Natural Grocers and soon-to-open Sunflower Market.

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Two Sundays in a row have provided easy reasons to skip church services for many in central Oklahoma.

Today’s St. Patrick’s Day party at area pubs might seduce some of the faithful. This past Sunday’s Daylight Savings switch and noon start of the Oklahoma City Thunder game kept attendance down in many local churches.

Pastors tell me the weather and competing events have an impact on the offering plates. Look for a third distraction this spring with the Okahoma City Marathon on April 28.

More churches get around this kind of distraction by going to automatic drafts of bank accounts. It makes their budgeting easier and keeps them from having to pray for good weather every Sunday.

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The April 2 election for mayor and four city council seats also contains an important question on the city’s hotel-motel room tax. Organizers have asked voters to raise the tax 25 percent, from 4 percent to 5 percent.

The 4 percent rate has been the same for 30 years.

It would bring in about $284,000 more to be split between the arts, city parks and the city’s convention and tourism bureau. The tax provides about 95 percent of the NCVB’s funding.

The organization wants to provide more destination marketing. NCVB director Stephen Koranda says Norman spends the least of all Big 12 cities in the marketing of itself.

For every $1 spent on destination marketing, $59 is spent by visitors. For every $1 invested in the arts, $8 is returned.

If approved by voters (and why wouldn’t they since they don’t usually pay for rooms), the tax rate would keep Norman under Oklahoma City.

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