I live in Ocoee, Florida -- a western suburb of Orlando that is predominantly middle and upper middle class. However, take a look on the roads, and in the business districts, and you'll never know. There's the shiny new West Oaks Mall, but most of the tenants are mid-end retailers. No Pottery Barn, no Restoration Hardware, no Banana Republic. Same thing with the shopping plazas -- nothing fancy-schmancy. No fancy cars on the road, like in the I-4 corridor -- big pickups seem to predominate, just like SUVs elsewhere.
Go through some of the new subdivisions in Ocoee, those with $200,000 and $300,000 houses, and you'll notice something unusual. About a third of the vehicles parked in driveways are work trucks -- work worn white pickups and vans, most with ladders hanging off them or metal "job boxes" in the bed. Go to one of the new chain restaurants, or Borders, and you'll hear a strange background noise that you don't encounter in other Orlando suburbs -- the constant chirping and tinny screeching of two-way conversations on Nextel phones. The talk is about drywall and building inspections, not mutual funds or dropping off the kids at soccer practice.
Ocoee is a strange beast -- it's a middle to upper middle class community, but it's very blue-collar. The folks living here made their money by working with their hands. Plumbers, painters, HVAC technicians -- about half of my neighbors are employed in the skilled building trades. Tastes are simple and there are few pretentions, so there's little evidence of "upscaleness" in the retail environment, despite the high incomes.
There is also a suburb of Buffalo that is quite blue-collar, but also quite affluent -- Elma. Big houses, big lots -- but those long driveways are filled with white work trucks, same as in Ocoee. No fancy cars on the road, no upscale stores, no fine dining. They're blue collar Joes with money.
Are there other affluent blue-collar communities in the US? I haven't really come across any -- maybe some suburbs of Cleveland or Detroit?