When it comes to analyzing the current conditions of the United States' economy, experts typically form their opinions from statistics relating to foreclosures, unemployment, or the number of businesses opening and closing in a given area.
But in Las Vegas, there's another economic indicator that's, well, unique to the city of Sin: spending at strip clubs.
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"Every customer that used to come in, they used to spend maybe $200 or $300," said Gary Nemeth, who has served as the general manager of Little Darlings Las Vegas Strip Club since 2009. "Now maybe they'll spend $80 to $100, they're just watching what they spend."
Yes folks, it's true. The current economic downturn has finally trickled down to strip clubs in Las Vegas. Trying to get customers to spend money at these establishments just isn't as easy as used to be. According to the Sin City Chamber of Commerce, a member-based organization for the adult entertainment business community in Las Vegas, the Vegas adult entertainment industry makes $8 billion annually.
But according to the Chamber's president, Loretta Hutton, strip-club managers are complaining that their business has gone down because customers are reluctant to spend money during these tough economic times.
"There's not (one business) that said their business is up, it's down," said Hutton. "People are not spending as much as they used to and the local clientele has decreased as well."
It's forced clubs to get more creative when it comes to marketing their brand. At Little Darlings, Nemeth and his marketing team provide a different theme for each night. One of those nights is "Military Night Sundays," where admission and drinks are free for military personnel.
"Just out of appreciation for the (military), we let them all come in for free on a Sunday night," said Nemeth. The club also holds an appreciation night for attractive grandmothers who strut their stuff on stage.
"It's bringing the fun back to strip clubs, that's the motto around here," said Amber Lopez, who works as the marketing director for Little Darlings Las Vegas. "We like to keep things fun and upbeat and for everyone to have a party."
About three miles down the road at Treasures Gentleman's Club, general manager Alson Lee offers a free buffet of fruit, pizza, and meatballs for those getting off of work to get business going earlier in the day. It's not your typical Las Vegas buffet, but it's enough to get locals in the door.
"It helps out during hour happy hour to get the locals in a little bit earlier," said Lee. "It's just an additional attraction point for them."
But while discounted events and free buffets are sure to get more customers to the club, there's a potential downside to it.
"The amount of customers are up because of the things we do," said Nemeth, "but they don't spend as much money as they used to. Even the high rollers don't spend as much as they used to so the price per head has gone down."
Ginelle is a dancer at Little Darlings and has noticed the drop. It's forced her to work longer hours during the week.
"You pick the weekends to work and just hope for the best and hope it gets better," said Ginelle. "Being an entertainer, it affects us the way it affects the rest of the economy."
Whether it's free food or a night of oil wrestling, it looks like strip clubs in Las Vegas are working harder than ever to get folks to spend money at their clubs. But don't expect Nemeth to start offering free food at his establishment anytime soon.
"Who wants to go to a strip club (for a buffet) with so many great restaurants around here?" said Nemeth. "I don't know, I don't think it's the best idea."