Those activities that regularly get labeled as “crass” are those that appeal to the masses. Hollywood blockbusters are “crass”; indie movies are cool. Pop music is “crass”; John Cage’s music is cool. McDonald’s is “crass”; artisan cheesemakers are cool. Wal-Mart is “crass”; a boutique merchant selling hand-knitted sweaters is cool. Supermarkets are “crass”; farmers’ markets are cool. Shopping malls are “crass”; small stores tucked into basements along Bleecker Street are cool. Barnes & Noble and Amazon are “crass”; independent bookstores each specializing in only one genre of literature are cool. Home Depot is “crass”; a mom’n’pop hardware store is cool. DisneyWorld is “crass”; Iceland’s fjords are cool. American football is “crass”; soccer (in America) is cool. The suburbs are “crass”; Georgetown is cool. Budweiser is “crass”; Sierra Nevada brews are cool. White zinfandel from California is “crass”; rosés from Bandol are cool.There's probably an Irony Alert somewhere, identifying and calling out the kind of sophisticates who will approve of Thorstein Veblen or Vance Packard on the matter of conspicuous consumption and status seeking, and yet subtly demostrate their own sophistication by conspicuously shopping where the cool kids go to see, be seen, and spend.
This list can be greatly extended, but you get the picture: whenever and wherever entrepreneurs and businesses adopt business models that appeal to large numbers of people, they are called “crass.” Far more appealing, apparently, are entrepreneurs and businesses that refuse to seek larger profits by catering to large numbers of people. Cool are the entrepreneurs and businesses that ignore the desires of the masses and concentrate their attentions on serving only a select handful of customers – as it happens, customers typically with above-average incomes.Professor Boudreaux notes that commerce which expands the range of products available to hoi polloi is "commerce that equalizes." Professor Palmer expands on the remarks, granting Professor Boudreaux honorary membership in the Philistine (not in the Biblical sense) Liberation Organization.