The importance of supporting local businesses
I’m not one to keep up on modern country music or TikTok dance sensations. If not for my cousin’s recent wedding I would be totally out of the loop on Walker Hayes’s song, “Fancy Like” and the dance it inspired.
But seeing a bunch of people line up and dance along made me want to know more. My wife later sent me this People article, “Why Has ‘Fancy Like’ Blown Up? Walker Hayes is Still Trying to Figure it Out.”
Hayes seems like a genuinely nice guy, the kind of guy I have known (and am related to) in the small town I ultimately moved from. Of the song, Hayes wrote in an Instagram post, “It’s a love song for people with mortgages and kids.”
The earwormy chorus goes:
We fancy like Applebee’s on a date night
Got that Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shake
Get some whipped cream on the top, too
Two straws, one check, girl, I got you.
He also sings about slow dancing in a double wide and drinking beers from a styrofoam cooler. This approach isn’t anything new. I’ve often noticed country music’s ability to connect with people at the most basic level. I’m thinking now of Zac Brown’s “Chicken Fried”:
You know I like my chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up
Well I’ve seen the sunrise
See the love in my woman’s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother’s love…
(He goes on to sing, “Well it’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most.”)
This is all well and good, but that People article really got to me. About “Fancy Like,” Hayes said, “We wrote about everyone who lives in a strip-mall town, and they’re fine with it…my wife and I live in a cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood with a ballpark and a Y and some schools and strip malls – Chick-Fil-A, Kroger, Burger King, Waffle House, Applebee’s. That’s what it is.”
I suppose he’s right. That is what it is. A lot of people love these chains. Not only are they not offended by them, but they look forward to them, celebrate special occasion meals there, and create memories together. (In fact, I have a personal Waffle House memory that I’m thinking of right now.)
To be clear, I’m not here to make anyone feel bad about an Applebee’s date night. But I cannot accept that strip malls and cookie cutter communities are the best we can do. Sure, people enjoy these places, which are often their best, most affordable, or only options. But let’s work together to broaden the menu of options. Let’s demand more for our communities. One of the best ways of loving our places is by shopping and dining local. It keeps money circulating in your local community.
I get that price sensitivity, economic means, convenience, routine, and other factors come into play for people. I can’t even convince some family members to choose local shops over big box stores when they can save some money at the latter. But didn’t Steve Jobs say people don’t know what they want until you show it to them?
Let’s show each other that there are nourishing, community-sustaining alternatives to chains and online shopping (yes, I do shop and sell online, but try to also support local businesses). We can be fancy like hometown diners, local bakeries and coffee shops, maple camps, the dairy your grandma went to, and the florist that’s been there since your childhood. These kinds of experiences still exist and are more hometown than any strip mall is. Let’s be fancy like we are invested in the future of our communities and in each other.