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The Cost of Being Cool


Getting to know clients is one of the best parts of my job. Discovering their careers, family structures, religious leanings, and political ideals is a true delight in my day. Listening to fellow Oklahomans has made me realize how vibrant our state has been and is becoming.

When catching up with clients, there are two conversations that come to mind. The first topic, a sort of "Whats new in Oklahoma City,” consists of new restaurants, bars, and retail. A blend of rumor, fact, and desire to be in the know fuels this conversation.
The second, is often about traveling to a city that is way “cooler" than our own.
Clients will rave about a dining experience as if they've never had pork chops before, or a shopping experience like it was visiting Mecca, and froth over a hotel as if it changed the way they perceive reality.

When thinking about these “cooler” cities there is a very distinct picture that they paint. Austin has a cultured weirdness. Seattle claims coffee, grunge and NPR. Denver is bountiful with breweries, subarus and edibles. More recently you hear tale of smaller southern markets being hailed as the new king of cool; Charleston or Nashville comes to mind.

So whats their deal? Why do these cities have a perception of being so much cooler?
When comparing, we [Oklahoma City] have great local restaurants, a thriving coffee scene, super trendy retail, breweries, and salons/barbershops. The list is long. Just visit the Keep It Local business members page and you'll be quickly overwhelmed.

So this begs the questions, Who are we? (Que cheesy BBC documentary about the fabric of human existence, and say “who are we” in a British accent). At a glance you can write us off as any other midwestern city. Our identity could be perceived as vague. But what makes us unique is that we are a deeply relational city. A “Big Friendly” as we’ve been coined. We are more likely to stop and talk when It is inconvenient. When we ask "hows it going?" we mean it. We champion our neighbors, we have a relational culture of selflessness that is hard to find.

I’m ok with not living in a perceived “cooler" market, in fact, they can keep their cool. Oklahoma City is great, not because we have fantastic local businesses, but because we want to be good neighbors. To me, that is a trade off worth having.

Jake Phelps is the owner of Capital City Barbershop and lives in NW Oklahoma City. He is married and has 2 little girls. In his free time, he loves all things BBQ and guitar pedals. Follow Jake on Instagram at @jakelahoma & @capital_city_ok