Here’s Why Investors Don’t Bring Fun Businesses To Lawton
It was announced at yesterday's Lawton City Council meeting that a new business is bringing jobs to town. Economic development and the opportunity for new jobs is nothing to be upset about, but can these new industrial businesses really sustain employees if the Lawton community lacks "fun" businesses?
The people demand entertainment and have a million ideas for what constitutes entertainment, but the people with all of the million-dollar ideas lack the gumption to be the change they want to see.
The question was posed on social media and the topic isn't taboo. It's an understandably simple request. Why doesn't someone bring something fun for young adults to Lawton? Backed by our military installation, the median age of Lawton is a youthful 31.5 years old. It's totally fair to wonder why there aren't more fun things to do for our majority youth population... but people usually don't want to hear the answer.
It costs money, sure, but there's also a considerable risk, especially how Lawton does business.
One of the biggest rumors Lawton has spread in the last few years has to be Dave & Busters. When they broke ground on the Patriot 13 theater off 67th and Rogers Lane, nobody spoke of just a new IMAX theater... There was a rumor that it was to become the entertainment district of Lawton, cornerstoned by the theater and a new Dave & Busters restaurant.
The excitement was palpable.
The theater was built, opened, and years have gone by and the rumor still persists that we'll eventually get that D&B's.
We're not getting a Dave & Busters. Lawton isn't big enough. We lack both the population and the median income requirements to even offer a slim chance of success... and in that, when you look at the fine print of D&B business requirements, you start to realize why there isn't anything "fun to do" in Lawton for our young adults.
Straight from the official website, Lawton is automatically cut from consideration because any prospective Dave & Busters location must meet a minimum daytime population requirement of at least 700,000 people within ten miles just to support the smallest of D&B locations. Meaning that's the population it takes to support a restaurant with 50 seats + the games and such.
You might read that and think "No, a Dave & Busters would be packed all the time here in Lawton..." and it would for at least the first six months, but eventually that new wears off and people grow comfortable enough to stake a grudge. If it takes a 700k population to keep 50 seats comfortably packed, it wouldn't survive its first year here in Lawton on average.
You might read that and think "No, Kelso's wrong. Dave & Buster's would be an instant success..." and you might be right. Being proven wrong on that would totally be worth eating my share of crow.
How many businesses have you seen pop up here, gain instant mass popularity, then the honeymoon phase ends abruptly which causes the quality of service to degrade if the business survives at all? I've seen it happen to hundreds in my fifteen years.
If we want to have a real talk, a bulk of Lawton's small business problems spawn from the maw of disinterested, hands-off franchisees. It's the difference between Chick Fil A and every other chain fast-food eatery in town.
We sparkle over how well the average Chick Fil A experience is and how lousy some or most fast food experiences are... Do you know what the difference is there? A Chick Fil A franchisee works and manages the business whereas other fast-food joints have nearly zero input from their owners aside from "Boost profits where you can, let me know how it goes."
That's no slight to our fantastic and essential fast-food workers in this town, it's a spotlight thrust entirely on leadership-less entrepreneurs that expect someone else to earn success for them. The people who want to be the boss without working as the boss.
An even bigger problem is people are never satisfied with greatness. We've become a population that never settles for good enough with a mentality that "new is always better." It's a direct result of two whole generations growing accustomed to instant gratification.
On the same social media post, there are some ideas tossed out that would make for stellar entertainment for Lawton's youth... Let's go over some of those for brevity.
Dave & Buster's? Go support LOL
Mini Golf? We've had two in my time here, both failed.
Indoor Rock Climbing? We have outdoor rock climbing for free.
Skating Rink? We have one already.
Drag Strips? We've had them, all shut down by neighbors.
Trampoline Park? We have one.
Music Venues? We have several.
Go Karts? We have them.
A Theme Park? Grow up and smell the population... Google is not that hard to use...
It's not that we don't have things to do here, the real problem is people who are bored will remain bored even with the world of entertainment at their fingertips. It's in their nature. They'll go once and decide "Been there, done that." Eventually, they'll Karen up and complain about "Well the last time I was there _______" and spout off some crazy half-made up story... and the killer of all fun, people will expect it all to be free.
There's not a lack of entertainment in SWOK, there's a lack of expendable income.
If people really wanted "fun things to do" and others to invest their time, money, and risk into the equation on what public opinion deems "a golden idea," it's time they be the change you want to see.
Don't have the funds to invest? Recruit like-minded individuals into your investment circle, become an investment group, and prove everyone wrong. Will it succeed? Maybe. Will it fail? Maybe. That's the gamble and the only people yelling "Bet the farm on it!" are those who have little-to-nothing to bring to the table.
The only person responsible for your entertainment is you, and it's unfair to lay that blame on anyone else.
If you're really that bored all the time, take the greatest entertainment advice anyone will ever give you... Buy a dirt bike. You'll have a blast breaking it on Saturday and fixing it will give you a fun hobby to entertain you until Friday. That's epic fun you can have in any town.