Lower- and middle-class baby boomer-aged households living in small towns
In Blue Sky Boomers, older, empty-nesting couples and singles have settled in small towns and waterfront resorts in anticipation of their retirement years. The three segments in this group are about evenly divided between married couples and widowed and divorced individuals. More than 80 percent are between the ages of 50 and 65. Most are white and have high-school educations and working-class sensibilities. These households tend to work in sales and service-sector jobs, supporting a resort economy in towns that offer weekend getaways and longer summer vacations for wealthier city dwellers.
Blue Sky Boomers are found in small towns and waterfront resorts - both seaside beaches and lakefront communities - from California to Florida. Many households are concentrated in the South, with the warmer weather favored by retirees. These Boomers are homeowners who tend to live in modestly-priced ranch houses, cottages and mobile homes. With childrearing days behind them, they have the discretionary cash to purchase adult toys like boats, campers and pickup trucks. While vacationers may swell the streets of their towns every summer, most of these year-round locals have lived at the same address for over a decade.
Most Blue Sky Boomers are high-school educated and work at a mix of sales, service-sector, professional and blue-collar jobs, though nearly one-quarter of households contains a retiree. Unlike their seasonal neighbors, they earn lower-middle-class incomes, averaging about $55,000. However, because their expenses are low and their mortgages mostly paid off, many enjoy casual and comfortable lifestyles in their bucolic settings.
Located in surroundings like theirs, no one would fault Blue Sky Boomers for spending much of their leisure time outdoors. These households enjoy fishing, boating, hiking, hunting and gardening. However, they also have enough money - thanks, in part, to conservative investments - to travel regularly by car and RV to domestic locations. Their social lives typically revolve around their churches, clubs and unions. For a splurge, they’ll go out to home-style and casual restaurants, take in a music concert or head to a weekend NASCAR race. When they want to relax, they like to read books, listen to music - from bluegrass to soul to classical music - do woodworking and needlework or have friends over for cards. These are the households that haven’t forgotten the art of baking from scratch.
Blue Sky Boomers are no shopaholics. They keep their clothes as long as possible and shop only when they need to - preferably at local stores. When they go on a big shopping run, these price-sensitive consumers typically head to discount department stores to stretch their money like Walmart, Dollar General, Family Dollar and Big Lots. Many are late adopters of new products, especially consumer electronics. They don’t often acquire the latest audio and digital devices: their living rooms are still outfitted with DVD players and traditional tube TVs. In this “buy American” group, residents look for domestically-made pickups and cars - and lots of them. More than half the households in this group own three or more vehicles.
In Blue Sky Boomers, traditional media still reigns supreme. To keep up with local news, many subscribe to a daily newspaper and read it from cover to cover. They also read magazines, especially those that reflect their down-home lifestyle, including titles like Country Living, Family Handyman, Ladies’ Home Journal and Reader’s Digest. This aging generation never lost their interest in music, listening to radio stations that play country music, golden oldies and classic rock. However, many consider TV their chief form of entertainment, tuning in to newscasts, game shows, dramas, how-to shows and history programs. They dislike most forms of advertising, opting out of direct-mail lists and avoiding TV commercials as much as possible. Many tend to be okay with the billboard advertising tucked into the landscape near their homes, though.
Politically, Blue Sky Boomers are a moderate lot: self-described Republicans with a right-of- center tilt. They’re also progressive on environmental issues and protective of any threats to their rustic communities. While most wouldn’t think of marching in a protest, they support causes financially, often backing arts, political, environmental and public broadcasting organizations.
Still relative newcomers to digital media, Blue Sky Boomers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the Internet. The majority has a desktop computer at home, and they use the Web like a virtual library, visiting sites for information on subjects that are near to their hearts: cars, cruises, fishing and medical information. They also go online for business purposes, including banking, trading stocks and shopping. Though they’re not completely comfortable with new technology - they’re more likely to go online using dial-up access than a wireless connection or a mobile phone - they’ve made gunbroker.com, ebaymotors.com, seniorpeoplemeet.com and theanimalrescuesite.com some of their favorite sites.