Are pickleball centers like craft breweries only better?

Pickleball and microbreweries are two distinct business phenomena that have gained immense popularity in recent years. Pickleball, a racket sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has captured the attention of players of all ages, while microbreweries have become a go-to spot for beer enthusiasts unique atmosphere. Different businesses but some striking similarities as well.

Both businesses build communities having fun, but one is centered around drinking, while the other is essentially a fitness business. Don’t get me wrong, I love breweries, in fact:

I was sipping an IPA at one of the abovementioned establishments when the similarity between pickleball and breweries struck me.  They both have locations blossoming everywhere.  They are both social places where people meet and interact in a cool environment.  They are both unique “experiences” in the best way.

Whether you like beer or not, you probably noticed the explosive growth of craft breweries in recent years.  Is there any town without one?  The first microbreweries appeared in U.S. during the 1980s and 90s.  Growth was steady but slow up into the early 2000s and then BOOM.  Today there are TEN times as many breweries as there were in 2002, and there were a fair number then! 

Pickleball’s explosive growth

The explosive growth of pickleball in recent years is well documented.  That said, it would not surprise me to see ten times as many pickleball centers as there are now,  in ten years.  Like breweries, the social nature of the sport is well known and deeply entrenched into the vibe of the sport.

There are also 2 huge differences that tilt the arrow towards pickleball as a more interesting market for the long term:

Pickleball has health benefits and is attractive to multiple demographics

  1. It’s Healthy.  With all due respect to breweries, the primary activity is quite definitely……drinking.  Of course most do it in reasonable moderation but no one is touting the health benefits.  Pickleball on the other hand is physical and mental exercise, an hour of pickleball movement can burn 300-500 calories or more.   Granted, many new pickleball facilities will feature food and alcohol but at least these are served along with something healthy, a competitive sport.
  2. It’s All Ages. Young professionals are the core customers for breweries.  Pickleball attracts significant play from multiple age groups. The older demographic is huge into pickleball, but it’s growing as fast for people in their 30’s as it is for people in their 60’s.  The top female player in the world is 16.  This broad appeal is a huge business advantage.   Consider an inherently limited asset:  court time. Fitness businesses historically struggle in midday, but pickleball retirees are ideal for filling those slots.   Filling odd hours is important for maximizing revenue.  Earlybirds of all ages in the morning, retirees in the midday, working folks in the evening. Everybody gets court time. 

Pickleball clubs as a business model

As an entrepreneur interested in business models and business opportunities, I was struck by these two social phenomena that have changed the way people gather and meet. Also by how quickly they have spread across the country. These are businesses that are here to stay.

Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor.  We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace.  To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.

Author: Bill

Passionate pickler, entrepreneur, experienced fitness industry executive, startup specialist, business model consultant, mentor and advisor. Contact me to brainstorm, discuss or commiserate! .

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