This is an open letter to Blake Ewing from the downtown kids; the hipsters, the artists, the punks, the progressive youth, the bohemian college grads and the perpetual students. From the bike bashers, the indie kids, the audiophiles and the cynical assholes alike; we provide to you an explanation, not intended to be a marketing tool, but much more so a hypothetical truce between Tulsa’s modern day Greasers and Socs.
First, let me clear some things up. “Hipsters” and “people like them” (as you so eloquently put it) did not build The Max. Honestly, they didn’t even frequent it when it was all shiny and new. The truth is, the downtown kids of this city; the ones that packed out warehouse shows at Curly’s and braved gunshots protruding from the shady clubs surrounding Arnie’s a decade ago, have always been downtown and already have their homes, their jobs and their dives well established inside the IDL. The fact that none of these havens fall within the doors of your establishments has little to do with elitism and more to do with authenticity and cultural awareness.
There is a reason that some people would rather buy a jacket from a thrift store than from a shopping mall. At thrift stores there is no marketing. Of course they’re trying to sell you stuff, but there are no chiseled models on the walls or meticulously staged mannequins in suggestive poses, undoubtedly thought up by teams of focus groups in Los Angeles to strip mindless drones of their parents money. There are no perfectly scuffed surfboards on the walls or newly designed vintage fans blowing stripper perfume into the threads of their already distressed jeans and borderline racist t-shirts. Simply put, thrift stores are real. The things you get from them have character. More accurately, you give those things your character and your style when you buy them.
Character is important. Especially important when your interior designer is piecing together a heavily bankrolled 80’s themed bar in the heart of an emerging downtown district. Complete with toys tracked down on ebay and tens of thousands of dollars in vintage arcade games, when it comes to true style you really can spare no expense. Perfectly mimicking lucrative market trends that left the West Coast in ’04 and landed in Wicker Park in ’08, seem to be a fool proof plan thus far so just run with it. Sure, with character this expensive you’ll have to sell a lot of PBR, but you’ll recoup most of that with the redbull and vodkas you pump out on Friday nights.
Character is even more important when paying design firms to make “local” apparel to hawk at your new t-shirt shop. This is essential if you want to cash in on the “big returns” being reaped at the artist driven retail space on the other side of the block. Luckily you’re getting in late in the game on that one, after someone else has established a good base of support and styling through years of struggle and hard work. It takes a special type of character to imitate what local artists have put together in their living rooms and mass produce them on a grander scale.
Most of all, character is important when marketing to hipsters, in that if you have any character what-so-ever you won’t focus on marketing to fucking hipsters. This, because hipsters above all else, are a social group that universally loathe any establishment trying to tell them what is cool, what to do or what to buy.
Ironically (and I say that ironically) you took the time to pen an open letter that could have been an apology for bussing in douche bags and bros on the weekends (a necessary evil we all know we’ll have to live with if downtown is going to flourish) and instead took that opportunity to start a Sunday through Thursday marketing campaign. An irrational last ditch effort to get the very people you openly scoffed (the hipster) to swarm in and help your bottom line. As if we’ve all been mistaken this whole fucking time and it just so happens that your shitty bar is actually super-cool on the nights that you’re losing money. You say you want people in your bars 7 days a week? I didn’t really study business in college and I’ve never run a pizza place with batting cages, but I’d probably start by not alienating the only people in this city who are actually downtown 7 days a week. But that’s just me and I’m definitely no Don Draper.
Honestly, I think that what you’re failing to understand here is that you are not like us. You’re a southey, a soc (yes, midtown is too far) and we can spot a fake from a mile away. This means you’re never going to get our money or our support. Don’t let this dissuade you. You can bring your fellow Philistines downtown on the weekends to spend their money and fight each other in our streets, but we expect them to go home after-wards. This is our truce, our turf war in the park. Our side of the tracks will keep the arts and culture alive downtown just like we always have. All your side of the tracks has to do is bring tax revenue into our neighborhoods two days a week and maybe St. Patrick’s Day and then go home. It’s that easy. Well, and you also have to stop being a dick.