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A Twitter Case Study in Midtown

Quite the discussion took place Saturday night on Twitter over a decision by Brown's Bakery in Midtown to tow vehicles parked in the bakery parking lot at night. The bakery is closed during the evening, so these vehicles are being parked by people patronizing nearby restaurants and bars.

It started with a Tweet that simply observed cars were indeed being towed - that this was no idle threat clearly posted on signs at the entryways to the parking lot.

I retweeted the tweet. And then the discussion began with responses by some that this would cost Brown's bakery their business. Another person quipped this made Brown's Bakery the "Queen's Beauty Supply of Uptown."

This is where I used Twitter to challenge such conclusions and provide another possible side of the story - something I chose to do since Brown's Bakery has no presence on Twitter at all and probably would be fully burned up reputation wise before the Brown family even knew what was going on.

First, let's get down to the whole issue of the towing. I don't know why the Brown family chose to resort to towing cars from the lot. For years the family tolerated district visitors parking in the lot. But over the past few months, signs started appearing asking that people not park in the lot at night.

I only know this - I have observed on two different locations that beer cans and other litter was left in the parking lot following busy nights in Midtown. And the parking lot is owned by the Browns - they do have the right to not allow people to park in the lot when the business is not open. A similar approach has been taken in the past by owners of the Glass Confectionary office buildings in Bricktown.

But the towing? It didn't go well when attempted in Bricktown (which was initiated by a controversial third party towing operator who was later fired by the property owner). And if Twitter is any indication, the response to Brown's Bakery resorting to towing is not good.

I questioned resorting to boycotting Brown's Bakery without hearing their side first. That did not go well with folks on Twitter.

Another person - a friend and someone I greatly respect - then quipped that Brown's was comparable to Queen's Beauty Supply.

Now on this question I know very well we have two very, very different stories. With Queen's on NW 23, we have a business owner who to my knowledge has done nothing to participate in the Uptown Association or the effort to revitalize the district. The property owner has minimal signage advising cars will be towed and I'm told has not responded to efforts by neighboring businesses to lease the parking lot at night.

Brown's Bakery, meanwhile, is a long time family owned business. I explained on Twitter the Browns were working hard to revive Midtown when they were a lone voice in the wilderness. Another person recalled how the Brown's have fed the homeless and contributed to improving the community.

The Brown family has also suffered incredible tragedy over the past few years, starting with the death of son Randy, followed by son Michael, and then most recently matriarch Katie.

— Steve's OKC Central (@stevelackmeyer) January 4, 2015

Now, did I ever defend Brown’s Bakery towing cars? No. Is Brown's Bakery making a mistake that might be regretted later? Very possibly yes. And I challenged those getting upset to talk to the Browns instead of simply swearing them off.

Is Brown's Bakery the Queen's Beauty Supply? Even if said in jest, this quip was favorited repeatedly on Twitter. I don't know how many folks who did so took it as a joke and how many took it seriously. But I challenged it either way, and still hope the person who posted the tweet knows I still respect him and consider him a friend. And this, #clarkclass, is your Twitter case study.

Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›