Thursday, March 5, 2009


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

A reader's response to a column about northeast Phoenix residents spending their entertainment dollars in north Scottsdale suggested that bars here make it hard for baby boomers to find entertainment that fits their lifestyle.

Trudy J. Phillips said: "Every Saturday night, my guy and I head out for dinner and some fun. We, like many of those 'our age,' have lots of money and are ready to spend it. We eat out around 7 p.m. and look for a place to go afterwards for good music. But guess what? There is no live music until after 9 p.m. By the time the music starts, we are ready to head home." Her suggestion was to start music earlier. She points out tourists from the East Coast would appreciate it as well.

As a baby boomer, I'm assuming my readers are also boomers. Good chance since boomers comprise 40 percent of all Arizonans (10+ percent above the national average), the largest age demographic in the state (Eat your hearts out you 20-somethings. We even have a term for you, the echo boom, since you are children of the baby boom.)

Yet entertainment venue bars in Arizona cater to the echo boom rather than the baby boom. The reader was correct in boomers earlier lifestyles. Younger people don't start dancing until around 11 p.m., the time most boomers are heading to bed, as Phillips noted. We're usually the ones at the gym at 6 a.m., though, as boomers tend to be health conscious.

Phillips noted that boomers have lots of money and are ready to spend it. Of the 76 million U.S. baby boomers, American Demographics magazine figures that 61 percent have an annual income in excess of $100,000. One Web site suggests: "Those over 50 control four-fifths of the money invested in savings-and-loan associations and own two-thirds of all shares on the stock market." MetLife estimates boomers have a spending power of $2 trillion-plus.

Del Webb reports Arizona is the second state boomers have selected to retire in, topped only by Florida. So expect more affluent boomers in the next 15 years. Scripps Howard reports nearly 50 percent of all Arizona political leaders (governor, state Legislature, congressional delegation) are boomers. Of the states bordering Arizona, boomers comprise around 60 percent of the political leaders.

MSNBC projects 30 percent of baby boomers are single. reported a 300 percent increase in baby boomer customers since 2000.

So why are bars pandering to the 20-something crowd rather than getting things started at 7 p.m. for the economically advantaged baby boomers with political clout?

Bob Corritore, proprietor of the Rhythm Room, one of the nation's premier blues emporiums, points out that Arizona's closing hours for bars extended from 1 to 2 a.m. three years ago. He said people tend to arrive at bars around 11 p.m.

As harmonica player for the Rhythm Room All Stars, a revolving band of exceptional local and national blues artists, he said musicians want to see an audience experience the whole musical event, from the opening act, including interaction during the band's break, through the last set.

Nik Richie, a nom de plume used by the creator of the Web site Dirty, says younger people get to bars late because "it is cheaper! You can save a whole round of drinks and get to the bars right when girls are starting to get drunk, especially the cougars (older women looking for younger men) who have been drinking wine since 3 p.m. because their ex-husband has the kids this weekend." He terms those who get to bars around 11 p.m. "vampires" because of their nocturnal ways. Vince Vaughan exemplified this crowd and its lifestyle in the 1996 movie Swingers.

Bar owners drive their business by the hours customers show up. The generation that protested in the '60s and changed society needs to flex its economic muscle and show bar owners that even in our 50s, we can change society. If more baby boomers demand bars "start the action" earlier, guess what? The generation that forced Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon from power will change bar entertainment hours in Arizona!