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2016-02-26 6:26 PM
in reply to: GMAN 19030

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Sign of the Times?
I think a lot of it is economics. Particularly with the 20-34 year old demographic, many are struggling to get careers going or find any job at all. I think many of us on BT are a bit older and more established financially and maybe forget how hard it can be to get started in a sluggish economy. My income barely puts me in the middle class. I probably have much lower living expenses than most, but I am still shocked at how casually some people talk about $3000 wheels, for example. That's almost a month's income (after taxes) for me. Not gonna happen. Often for younger adults, extra income not used for daily expenses has to be used to pay off massive student loans. I don't think most of my younger colleagues could spare the time and money for what is a pretty expensive and time-consuming hobby, especially if one gets more heavily into racing and/or decides to train for iron-distance events. If/when the economy improves you will see more 20-34 year olds enter the sport or stay at it after they are no longer dependent on Mom and Dad's money. Otherwise only the elites will continue when they have to get jobs and foot the bills themselves. Even for the older demographic, a lot of people are really struggling financially and the money/time is just not there.

Then there's the business end of it: Our ONLY triathlon store in Eugene, Oregon closed a few years ago after maybe three years of operation. This astounded me at first. Eugene is the so-called "running capital of the world", biking is hugely popular, with several big local groups, and plenty of elite athletes train in the area. But that may be part of the reason the shop didn't take off. Of course our town already has excellent, though small, specialized bike and running shops as well as some big-box sporting goods stores, and triathlon gear is more cheaply available from online retailers. The tri shop carried a small selection of specialized gear (but very little that one couldn't get elsewhere, and all available more cheaply online) and had wetsuits for purchase and rental, but they really banked on people using the training facilities (a group Computrainer setup, personalized coaching, TRX, group workouts). The problem seemed to be that the more casual or less well-off part of the market couldn't afford that stuff and just made do with self-coaching, free group rides, and maybe master's swimming, at most dropping in to rent a wetsuit a few times each summer, while the higher income or more serious folks already had their own trainer setups, gym memberships, online coaches, etc. Plus one of the cycle stores already had Computrainer classes and drop-in times. They really just didn't have a business plan that was realistic and sustainable given the local market and competition.

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