The Awkward Stage

11 Jan

Downtown Claremore

The awkward stage usually refers to the pimple-riddened years where we’re uncomfortably stuck between being a child and being an adult. Personally, I didn’t find my teen years all that miserable, but I think the phrase still has some merit. It’s hard to be inbetween two spots, neither here nor there. This applies to more than just adolescent development. I would humbly put forth that the city of Claremore is in an awkward stage. We are not a small town anymore, but it’s hard to be big 30 minutes away from Tulsa.

1. Claremore is not a small town anymore.

You can always go look up technical definitions on the U.S. Census website and I’ll throw a number out there: 2010 census has Claremore pegged at 18,581. Let’s talk about how it feels as a citizen and a business owner. Claremore has two high schools, 3 junior highs, and 7 elementary schools. Claremore has 3 grocery stores, 5 hardware stores, and 4 Subways. Small towns don’t even have QuikTrips and we’re getting a 2nd (which will be a QT Kitchen and significantly closer to my house than the current one. I’m excited!) Claremore has been hit by the national economic situation and that shows in our busineses that cater to middle-class luxuries. The bowling alley has shut down. We had 5 coffee shops in 2009 and in 3 years we’ve dwindled to one. However, the population size is still there that those type of businesses need–we’re all just poorer than we were before.

My alternate life that I don’t allow on this blog is politics. I can tell you that Claremore is a major player in the 2nd Congressional District and our state reps and senators are important and in leadership positions in Oklahoma City. We’re not in the political player leagues of Tulsa, Edmond, Bixby, or Oklahoma City, but we are in the top 10.

Think about how it feels living here.  How often do you run into someone you know at the store? Do you have to consider traffic in your driving plans? When you travel in the state do people know where Claremore is? Not often, yes, and yes, respectively.

We need to break out of the small-town way of thinking! Claremore leadership and citizens need to quit fighting change for nostalgia’s sake and let big things happen. Trains causing a traffic standstill might be ok in Chelsea, but the situation in Claremore is unacceptable! The city is pursuing some solutions, but they have been set back by grant rejections and they might even be pursuing the wrong solution to start with. Local businesses like the hospital and Pixley’s have put their own benefit ahead of the town’s progress when competitors like St. John’s and Lowe’s tried to move in and the city council aquiesced to their selfish ideas. Thankfully, St. John’s and Lowe’s found ways around (St. John’s settled outside of town in North Park community and I’ve heard that Lowe’s bought land secretly from the Chevrolet dealership), but how many other businesses are we missing out on because of similar behavior? Also, did you notice that neither Pixley’s or the hospital have suffered terribly since? Their hissy fit was pure fear of competition and had nothing to do with self-survival.

2. Claremore is not yet a big town

Claremore is simply not there yet. We only have one movie theater and it’s small. We only have one coffee shop, as I said earlier. We have no nightlife. We have no music scene. We work in Tulsa and drive to Owasso to shop. It’s rather frightening to be so dependent for livelihood and lifestyle on places where you have no voice in the proceedings. I don’t have a magic plan to grow our city. Decades of brilliant minds have been tossing around concepts like suburbs and bedroom communities and still haven’t come up with a best-practice list. I do believe though that Claremore citizens are the best people to solve Claremore’s problems.

In the world of marketing and social media I find myself saying over and over ‘Claremore is not Tulsa!’ Claremore is unique and the relationships are quite different from a big metro. A marketing agency from Tulsa is not going to understand that. Your customers will feel like you’re trying to shock and awe them with high-falutin’ ways. If they’re the least bit aware they’ll know that it’s better to keep money close and not to keep giving it to Tulsa. On the other hand, Claremore is modern enough that businesses need the technological tools of  social media, mobile advertising, and smart ads,unlike the rural towns around us. Magic Bottle Marketing can help you balance these two and navigate this awkward in-between scene. I’m excited to get to work with you!

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