Over the course of my months at moreClaremore, I’ve read a lot about the history of our little town. One landmark that has come up repeatedly is Long’s Motel and Wax Museum, which was located where Reasor’s stands today.
My family moved here in 1981, and I don’t remember Long’s (and I usually remember everything!), which is why I was surprised to learn that Hoover’s Have All Mall was originally housed in the old Long’s Wax Museum…in 1986. I was seven; I should remember that! But I don’t.
Anyway, back in the 1980s, Patty Hoover worked as the manager of the Long’s Motel. She heard from a friend that a flea market was opening up in the old roller rink over on Archer. They decided that having a booth might be a fun idea.
When Patty and her husband, Harlan, took a trip to the first “mall” in Oklahoma (located in Locust Grove), they were hooked. They caught what the Hoover family affectionately calls the “junk bug.” Her husband went so far as to suggest they open up a mall of their own, and not just a booth at the flea market.
Patty was still working for Mr. Long, and the wax museum had since closed, so it was available for rent. Mr. Long told the Hoovers that it would be $3,000 per month for rent. In 1986?! Jeez. In order to make things easier, Mr. Long said they could pay the rent in pieces, as the booth rents were paid. Rather than paying tiny portions of rent multiple times per month, the Hoovers headed to the local banks, where they were told repeatedly that they were nuts. But the loan officer at People’s State Bank said the idea of the mall was “just crazy enough to work.” The next stop was Pixley Lumber, where the Hoovers bought plenty of lumber and chicken wire to build the stalls within the mall. (I really hope they called these “mall stalls.” I didn’t ask.) Harlan began building the stalls and they were being rented faster than he could build! In June of 1986, Hoover’s Have All Mall was open for business.
After just three years, Mr. Long sold his property to Mr. Frank Robson, so that Price Mart could be built. In the fall of 1989, Harlan had a surprise for his beloved Patty: a new location. He drove her to the old lumber yard across the street from Pixley’s. You’re familiar with it. It’s where Hoover’s still stands today. But back in ’89, it was nothing but an abandoned lumber yard. Patty said, “It was so awful, I cried! It was so ugly. And there was no parking.” But Harlan had already paid $1000 in earnest money at the bank, so unless they wanted to be out the cash, they had to move forward. Harlan went back to building mall stalls in the new space. The family (and by that, I mean not just Patty and Harlan, but also their son, John, and daughter, Pam) worked around the clock, frantically trying to get the place ready before Mr. Robson began building Price Mart.
Hoover’s Mall has a general manager named Kathy Shrum. Kathy and Patty met back in the days of the old flea market in the roller rink, and Kathy later became a vendor in the Hoover’s Mall. Kathy’s mom ran the Mall’s concession stand, serving “the best taco salad in town.” Kathy says that she was literally the last person out of the old location; she was doing her best to give the Hoovers time to get the new place ready. When the wrecking ball showed up, she figured she’d better get a move on! The loyalty has served her well; Patty refers to Kathy as her “right arm.” Granddaughter Kara serves as her “left arm.” Patty’s daughter has a shop in the Mall, and so do some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hoover’s Mall is truly a family affair.
Today, Hoover’s has approximately 45 vendors, and even more shops. Some of the vendors have been with Hoover’s since the beginning, 28 years ago.
Patty didn’t start out planning to own a “Mall.” But she discovered that she loved buying things, and as I mentioned, she got the “junk bug.” She loves learning about her merchandise, which is a bit easier in today’s world of the internet. Back then, all studying was done in books, which is probably tough for today’s kids to imagine.
I asked Patty if she had anything to say to our readers, and she gave it some thought. She said tearfully, “It’s been a good life. I couldn’t have done it myself, without the help of my family.” Kara credits the loyalty of customers for part of the success, as well. Patty gives great praise to her late husband, Harlan, because he worked so hard to open the Mall, and he believed in it so much.
One of Harlan’s firm beliefs is still in effect today. Hoover’s Have All Mall is open seven days a week, from 10a – 5p. If it’s during normal business hours, the Hoovers are there. Harlan’s belief? You’re open when you say you’re open. Threat of some snow? Hoover’s is open. Tornado warning? They say that’s when they’re busiest! Hoover’s is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day. Other than that? They’ll be there.
To kick off the holiday season, Hoover’s Mall has a grand Christmas Open House, which is always held the Thursday before Thanksgiving. On that day, the Mall closes at 1p, only to re-open from 5p – 9p. The evening has plenty of food and lots of sales. Drawings for Hoover’s Bucks encourage shopping, and a special drawing for the kids helps to kickstart a new generation of folks with the “junk bug.”
Entering Hoover’s Mall reminds me of my childhood. There is something to see in every nook and cranny; it would be easy to spend a couple hours in there. It’s cluttered in a way that will dredge up memories of your grandmother’s house. It’s comfortable, and cozy, and the icing on the cake is the kitchen table where Patty and Kathy can often be found chatting and drinking coffee during their downtime.
Meeting with the Hoovers was a lot of fun; they were so kind and welcoming, and continually offering coffee as we sat at the table. I got the feeling instantly that customers are treated that way, too. Go visit Hoover’s Have All Mall; it’s a delightful trip down memory lane. But it’s not all old-fashioned; follow Hoover’s Mall on Facebook to keep up with the latest goods!
Keep it local, Claremore.