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Cosmically Cool

The STEMcell Science Shop’s carefully curated products will have you feeling like you’re in a science museum as much as a retail store.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Chelsi Fisher
Posted
June 28, 2018

If you’ve been blinded by science, can’t get enough of the gadgets on Star Trek, or want your children to be the ones inventing cellphone apps instead of playing on them, then you want STEM. That’s short, of course, for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and it’s an area of study that’s becoming more and more the trend of the future.

And you’ll get a great taste of STEM in all its glory — from old science books and chemistry sets to science-themed tumblers and other gift items — at one of the Boxyard’s most innovative stores, The STEMcell Science Shop.

Terry Mudge, who co-owns the business with his wife, Jessie, says he created the store out of his own personal passion for all things scientific. “I always loved science and interesting scientific tools and trinkets,” says Mudge. “For a long time, the only place I could find these cool items was the often-overlooked industrial category on Amazon. With the rise of STEM initiatives across the country, I realized there were a lot of people seeking out these hard-to-find products.

“Being an entrepreneur, I realized there was a huge hole in the market, and an entire niche interest — the science shop — was being ignored. While The Boxyard project was in its early stages, I heard they were seeking interesting business ideas. I mentioned my idea for a science shop, and it took off.”

STEMcell offers items for both adults and children — with variety enough to intrigue just about anyone. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)
STEMcell offers items for both adults and children — with variety enough to intrigue just about anyone. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)

Like the other shops at The Boxyard, STEMcell must function within a cozy shipping container. The dynamic challenge of appealing to local shoppers within a small space means that all The Boxyard shops must be creative about what they offer and how they draw in visitors. STEMcell, says Mudge, is no exception.

“With our store being so small, we really have to be very selective about what we carry, but it also allows us to change things out easily to keep the store feeling fresh every time people come in,” he says. Among those carefully curated products are a lot of genuinely cool items that will have you feeling like you’re in a science museum as much as you’re in a retail store — making it a great place to browse as well as shop.

STEMcell offers items for both adults and children — with variety enough to intrigue just about anyone. “Shopping around for interesting items is probably my favorite part of my job,” says Mudge.

Terry Mudge, who co-owns the business with his wife, Jessie, says he created the store out of his own personal passion for all things scientific. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)
Terry Mudge, who co-owns the business with his wife, Jessie, says he created the store out of his own personal passion for all things scientific. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)

Some of his favorite finds include “the full-size Allosaurus replica skull made by the same crew who does the Jurassic Park props, pieces of the Space Shuttle flown in outer space, a large chunk of the infamous Chelyabinsk meteor, and coming soon, regolith that’s been engineered to be an exact match to that found on Mars,” he says.

“Our geological specimens are very popular. Some people collect them, some people decorate with them, and a few think they have super powers [they don’t]. We also carry plenty of small, interesting trinkets that we change out often due to their popularity. These have included strong magnets, materials with interesting properties, and blood type testing kits. We also carry actual professional science equipment that you won’t find anywhere else, including microscopes, chemistry gear and wind turbines. Probably our most popular items [and unexpectedly so] are our science home goods. Posters, drink ware, and decor are very popular gifts for fellow science‑lovers.”

One of the most intriguing items STEMcell carries is 3D printers and supplies — both because he loves sharing cutting-edge technology with others and because, as it turns out, there’s a large 3D printing community in Tulsa.

“Many people, companies, libraries, and schools locally have 3D printers,” notes Mudge. “In fact, we are one of the few local suppliers of 3D printing filament, and we have formed friendships with many regular customers who now come to us to get their printing materials locally instead of shopping online.”

If you like the idea of enjoying new STEM items each month, Mudge suggests checking out STEMcell’s new subscription box, MATTER. “It is possibly the first science subscription box not targeted to kids,” he says. “Every month, subscribers all over the world receive a box of items, specimens or artifacts with interesting properties. The idea is to explore how all physical matter in the universe is made of the same exact components but behave and interact with each other wildly differently.”

STEMcell also provides student, educator, and homeschool discounts as well as bulk discounts on almost everything. “If anyone needs a ton of beakers for your bar, 3D printers for your classroom, or decor for a science-themed event, we’d love to hear from you,” he says. And bonus — they’ll price-match.

All in all, Tulsans who have visited STEMcell love the shop. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Mudge. “I think this is because we provide a unique experience. We even get visitors from out of state who have come just to visit our store. Not a day goes by when we don’t get asked to open a location in another city.”

LOCATOR
The STEMcell Science Shop
The Boxyard | 502 E. 3rd St., Unit #5 | Tulsa
918-978-1968
stemcelltulsa.com
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.