Oasis Fresh Market: The Grocery Store that Gives Back

By: Matty Mooney

When I first stepped foot into Oasis Fresh Market, one word came to mind: haven. Aisles were packed with fresh produce, shelves offered brands ranging from major companies to small businesses alike. The staff was warm and welcoming, sporting shirts with the slogan; Refuge, safe place, shelter. Recently opening in May of 2021, Oasis Fresh Market is redefining what your average grocery store can be. 

Oasis is the first fresh mart to open in its location in over fourteen years. Located on North Peoria Avenue, the store serves those in and outside of the North Tulsa community, offering a rewards program, and monthly events to bring outreach inward. This part of Tulsa is classified by the USDA as a food desert: an urban area that has difficult access to buy affordable and good-quality food. Before Oasis, North Tulsa had no grocery store within a 9-mile radius. The store brings a beam of hope to those who need it. Employee Lea Houston and volunteer Stephanie Timmerman are just two members of the incredible team behind the mission. 

“Before Oasis, there was nothing. People had to go to convenience stores, or halfway across town just to buy groceries,” Houston said, “Hearing people say, ‘Oh your produce section is so nice! It’s so clean’, ‘You have flowers!’ is really fun to see and watch the positive reaction.”

Providing access to healthy, clean food is one of the mart’s top priorities. However, they provide a range of resources for those in all walks of life. This includes their own rewards program to have discounts on groceries, and hosting monthly “First Saturday” Events, bringing a wide range of services to the table. The non-profit, located inside the store, partners with Oklahoma Community care to provide renters with rent and utility assistance. 

Owner AJ Johnson encourages his employees before a First Saturday event.

“A lot of our customers walk here, take a bus, or ride a bike. If Oasis wasn’t here, people would go to Dollar General. If you think about what food you get at those stores, it’s not fresh, mostly shelf items,” Timmerman said,  “This has been amazing for this community. For AJ [Oasis founder and owner], it’s been a dream come true.” 

AJ Johnson, his staff, and volunteers from all over Tulsa come to Oasis to lend a helping hand. This last Saturday, partners came with resources from all areas, including but not limited to; USCellular, Gateway Mortgage, TTCU, RedCross, HungerFreeOK, and Modus Tulsa, a non-profit transportation service. 

Armani, an employee with Scoops Water Ice, gives out samples during the event.

“He had a vision for North Tulsa, and he ran with it. He grew up here, he wanted his community to have everything at their fingertips, everything that they needed. In the first year, Oasis has been very successful,” Timmerman said, “Almost every day there is someone you can pray over. AJ has a motto: ‘Welcome to Oasis: How can I serve you?”

Employees at Oasis help a customer sign up for their rewards program. 

I was excited to experience the event in person, watching AJ hype up the staff and volunteers, he was constantly bringing an energy, excited to aid the community. He knew every face and made everyone, including me, feel seen. Although I was mainly in the background, I enjoyed watching AJ interact with everyone, he truly has a passion for his work and craft. I’m ecstatic to see where he and Oasis will grow too. 

Johnson believes in serving his community, not just simply helping. His impact contributes to those in need and is at the forefront of bringing change to North Tulsa, uplifting, inspiring, and empowering the residents. Throughout 2022, Oasis will continue to aid and provide resources through their business. You can find Oasis located at 1725 N Peoria Ave. Want to get involved? Find their website and social media linked here and here!

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