On Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, shop owner finds inspiration in local sports history

It’s been an uneven start to the summer at Silhouette Sneakers & Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to owner Venita Cooper. “For May, we’re up about 12% in sales,” she said. “But for June we’ve actually started pretty slow.”

Cooper said two issues have weighed on the store: a soft sneaker resale market and a slowdown in June foot traffic.

Silhouette is located in Tulsa’s Greenwood district, historically called Black Wall Street. The district was the site of a massacre in May 1921, when a white mob raided the Black neighborhood. Public events remembering that past have been a draw for Silhouette in recent years, but that pull has waned.

“Part of the strong start to June in the past has been the traffic that comes in from these large events,” Cooper said. “I’m definitely seeing fewer events bringing in huge groups of people.”

Yet she has seen interest in other parts of Tulsa’s history. “Tulsa used to have this Continental Basketball Association team in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” said Cooper, who described herself as a sports nerd. “The team was called the Tulsa Fast Breakers. I did this collection to commemorate that, to share that history, and that’s definitely generated a lot of engagement and has boosted sales a bit.”

To hear Cooper’s full story, use the media player above.

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