The Aging And The Restless

The Leisurewear Business

"The boomers are the reason I got into this business six years ago," says Charles Hohl, executive vice president of Las Vegas Golf and Tennis, a franchise that sells golf and tennis equipment, clothing and accessories. "Boomers represent about 75 percent of our customers and are the driving force that will change every retailer."

But with everyone preparing for the boomers, acing the competition will be tough if you haven't done your homework. Demographic research is a must for start-up franchisees looking to rake in big boomer bucks. "First, you have to identify what kind of shows they watch on TV," says Hohl. "Since boomer men watch a lot of sports, we do golf promotions with Fox Sports Networks. We aggressively go after country club memberships in our market areas. We also have major vendors doing co-ops with us."

That kind of aggressive marketing and research creates a strong boomer customer base, which is extremely important for businesses hoping to increase profits in proportion to the boomers' increase in age. Las Vegas Golf and Tennis anticipates a double-digit growth rate this year, mostly stemming from boomer-driven purchasing trends in categories such as leisurewear.

Those leisurewear sales are on the rise thanks to executive boomers' changeover from IBM formal to dotcom casual. Twenty years ago, no serious businessperson would show up at the office wearing a polo shirt and khakis. But today, it's the stiff in the three-piece suit who gets funny looks around the water cooler. Says Hohl, "We're seeing tremendous growth in casual clothing for the office."

Drum roll, please! Find the best franchises that leave the rest in the dust in the "22nd Annual Franchise 500".

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Aging And The Restless.

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