Hipsterify, Williamsport, PA
I’m 6 hours east of Columbus, back in the midwest for a High School friends wedding. I opted to stay downtown in Williamsport, at the Genetti hotel, the biggest landmark in the area. Owned by Gus Genetti, of whom I assume is a giant for the town, based on the size and location of his property.
So I’m writing to you from a cafe on Pine Street called Allibaster.
Now, it’s possible that I’m in a new bubble over in LA, and haven’t realized that there’s always been so art, culture, coffee, veganism and small batch kombucha in towns everywhere across the country… or, everything has been slowly changing behind the scenes.
This is the Hipsterification of America, and it’s likely almost complete. Sure, we associate a lot of the hate that’s been brewing in the country to small town USA, because they’ve been hit hardest by the economy.
But as I walk into Allibaster Coffee, I might as well be in any city in the U.S. Because I’m now at “the shop,” which is almost too cliche, with Notorious B.I.G. playing, wood paneled walls, a big chalk board with hand scripted lettering for the latest coffee, and those metal chairs that every coffee shop in the country has seemed to buy. But the coffee's great and I'm at my watering hole with my people.
The point that this morning I woke up in a town I’ve never heard of, hours from anywhere I’ve ever heard of, and what does my morning look like…?
Well I started at the farmers market. A mix of Amish and country type vendors with veggies, meat and baked goods.
But when you go through the market, you notice another wave. Every few shops it’s vegan soaps, beard oils, and soy cheeses. I stopped by a vendor to pick up a muffin, and they told me that they now carried a “paleo” muffin of which they weren’t really sure how to describe it. Apparently their daughter bakes them (and is “trying paleo”), of which said vendor didn’t care for them but believed they carried no eggs or cheese, if I was into that.
Is this because of Pinterest? Instagram?
While we’re no longer synced up on TV shows or music, it seems like there’s an undercurrent of cultural trends that are playing out in every town and city across the country. Maybe it’s the “Image” that pervades once again. When everything can be documented, we prefer to have it look nice and appear on-trend.
This is the irony of our times. We crave to be unique, and so often we buy what we see online, like Supreme, Glossier, Vans, 5-Panel hats. The problem is, EVERYONE IS BUYING IT. Or, all of your friends. Just like the iPhone. Of which they understand this and are pricing their new phones ever higher, for ever more ability to showcase your status by owning the latest and most expensive.
But what this also spells to me is that the notion of Make America Great Again is dying not through policy so much as through culture.
Sure, you can be the guy or girl who rags on the vegans, or lifts their chin at the new coffee shop serving a $4 cup, but then suddenly YOU’RE the square. The luddite.
And culture permeates like products. Which as Geoffrey Moore explains, moves through a cycle and then repeats itself.
First with the innovators. Those willing to take the biggest risk on something that might not work, like, a pour over only coffee bar with $6 cups. Then, the early adopters, who notice the talents, don’t understand the science but want to believe in and support the makers. Eventually, once made safe, and with the help of the prompting from the cool kids on the gram, the early majority arrive. This is when the wave hits, when the shop goes mainstream and begins cashing in on their risk.
But there’s still the hold outs. Loyal to the old brands, they opt out from pride, ignorance, or the desire to keep things as they’ve been or as they were. We're all luddites in certain areas of our lives, and we all make decisions about what to adopt...
But today, what you feel pressure to be is ahead of the curve, not behind the 8 ball.
It’s just simply not promoted or accepted at this point to not go forward. Call it a sign of the technology revolution. And so these memes eek through the rivers and streams of our culture. And mostly their new healthy expressions of who we are. New lanterns are lit for segments of the population that didn’t have a voice in a white-washed culture. Remember, hip-hop was taboo. Yoga was taboo. Meditation was….
So I have a hard time believing that culturally we’re getting less progressive, when every small town is adopting the cultural waves of the cities. This is the last great pushback folks. The new culture has spread and now it's up against the “late-majority.”
It’s called majority because it is a large segment of the population who doesn’t want any part of this change.
But the cultural always shifts.
I think the hipsterification is already here. It's already spread. What's next?
Feels like equality and acceptance is on it's way.
Crossing the Chasm