PAWHUSKA — The sun and seasonal temperatures have been making regular appearances in Pawhuska.
So have the crowds.
Drawn by the commercial creations of Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, the Osage County town again is bursting at the seams with tourists.
“Springtime has been a boom,” said Joni Nash, Pawhuska’s economic development director. “We stayed steady through the winter. Then, this nice weather has hit.
“It’s just been poppin’. We’ll look for that to carry through the summer.”
The Pioneer Woman’s newest franchise is an ice cream shop scheduled to open “later this week,” Drummond wrote on her blog. It will have cones, sundaes and “fun candy,” she wrote.
The ice cream shop will be at 515 Kihekah Ave. Upstairs in the same building is P-Town Pizza, which Drummond opened a year ago.
Her flagship store is the the 25,000-square-foot Mercantile, which opened in October 2016 and has a deli/restaurant, bakery, candy counter and specialty coffee bars, in addition to the market full of home goods.
The Pioneer Woman Boarding House, an eight-room luxury hotel, opened last year and on the way is a steakhouse. Also completed in 2018 was Frontier Hotel Pawhuska, a boutique hotel developed by Tulsa’s Brickhugger LLC in the revamped Triangle Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nowadays, it’s common to see Pawhuska accommodate busloads of tourists, some of whom are also on their way to Magnolia Market at the Silos, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ shopping mecca in Waco, Texas.
Folks used to wait hours to get in the Merc. Today, they are alerted by text when there’s an opening, Nash said.
“That has been a great help and people have been able to move around town more,” she said.
With at least 250 employees, Pioneer Woman businesses employ the second-most people in the county, trailing only the Osage Nation, Nash said. Pawhuska also ranks in the top 10 in the state in Airbnb rentals, despite an estimated population of 3,500, she said.
“There was a lot of commerce that existed here for decades,” Nash said. “Then, when Walmart came in and left, caused a lull in that.
“To see that revitalization coming again and to see cars and people and pedestrians all up and down the street all hours of the day is a breath of fresh air. There is a buzz of excitement around here.”