Bar owners, drink servers and entertainers have noticed an alarming trend.

After a modest happy hour or dinner rush, establishments all over Missoula become a near ghost town only until the next wave of party goers arrive as late as 11 p.m. These fashionably late appearances are making their jobs all the more difficult as they have to cram as many sales as they can into a very small time frame, before the dreaded "last call for alcohol."

Why is this? Could it be that it's cheaper for people to get their drink on at home before they travel to their favorite watering hole? Are people just bored of the same routine and are waiting for bar owners to inject something enticing to draw them there earlier? Or maybe it's because people are so overworked because of today's economy and just don't have the energy like they used to? The answer is all of the above, and more.

We've reached out to locals who frequent the entertainment establishments in the Missoula area to get their responses. Owners, bartenders, DJs and bands, take note, these brutally honest answers just may save your business:

Christy Clemmens (Missoula) -

"I am a working mother with three jobs. Once I'm done with my 13 hour workday, I spend as much time as I can with my daughters before dad sends them off to bed. Then, and only then, can I have the time to break out and have fun. I know many mothers in the same situation: they have so many responsibilities now, more than ever before, and yet we still want to feel young and free. But now the only time we have is much later in the evening. Much later."

Ric Persius (Lolo) -

"I'm sick of the same old, same old. Nothing has changed in this city in nearly a decade. The scene isn't what it once was. If I go out, it's only because I'm terribly bored with nothing else to do. If I can't entertain myself at hom,e then I GUESS I'll go downtown, just for a moment though."

Julie Manning (Missoula) -

"I'm broke! We are all so broke. The money in this town has evaporated."

John Fleming (Corvallis) -

"I think it's up to the bar and event promoters to make us stand up and say 'Wow, I HAVE to get there early for this drink special or opening act. However, lately it feels as if they have given up the fight and aren't willing to put money out to reel us in earlier. Like they always say, 'you have to spend money to make money.' If they do have a screaming deal at the bar already, then perhaps they aren't getting the word out enough. It goes without saying that they have to advertise. Not just for a week, either. They should constantly hammer their message. I've worked in bars long enough to see owners stress about money. The first thing they eliminate is advertising. Worst move ever, in my opinion."

Taylor Branding (Frenchtown) -

"If I go out, I only want to have just a few drinks. If I show up early, I'm bound to tip back a few more than I should. I want to get home safe, so I arrive later so I'm not tempted to drink more."

Rick Mayner (Missoula) -

"If I were a bar owner, I wouldn't change a thing. It's not them. It's just that the people in this town have created a new unwritten rule: 'Don't go out until your friends go out.' I just don't want to be that guy who sits at the bar all by myself. But when I do, I watch people peek their head in, notice the place is empty, and turn right around only to return when there is a moderate amount of people in the building."


Have you noticed this trend of late arrivals too? What is your reason for not going out until much later? Are you a bar owner or bartender that is worried for his or her business because of this trend? What can we do to get more people into entertainment establishments at an earlier hour?

Speak out in the comments below.

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