Haven't posted here in awhile but this topic is interesting and I have some experience in all that's been discussed.
Disclaimer: I may hate myself for posting this ha ha ha.......
Started my Medicare 11/1 and turning the big 65 in a week
Health is great and I lead dive trips and sell the occasional UW photo gear as a "living". I say that with both humor and seriousness because the dive industry even when I co-owned a store 1985-1989 in the hey day of scuba gear sales and teaching was never a "living".
We taught classes almost 7 days a week (the old way, maybe Tues. / Thurs, Mon./Wed. for 3 weeks classroom and pool) then actually took divers for a weekend of 4 dives in small groups. In Ohio that meant two different quarries, 4 divers / instructor and actually taught some neutral buoyancy control so people could enjoy diving
Fast forward and now many things mentioned in this thread are common. You don't really need a dive shop for anything. Online gear sales with easy returns, regulator service at many national places for those who don't want to do their own, and yes, learning the principles of diving like you can get a college degree today. ONLINE.....
Travel DOES make way more $$$$ than teaching and service by tank monkeys who I don't trust to work on my Aqualung old style Titan LX regs. I have 3 all updated to the same as a modern Titan LX but with no stinking ACD and they breathe fine for me and my wife on worldwide dive travels.
The remaining older folks who will spend significant $$$$ are WWW (warm water wusses) and want easy, clear tropical diving but I see a decline in those numbers too. People are taking themselves out of diving due to age, physical condition and one other thing I somewhat rant about.......We've made diving too damn hard.....
I dive a small Aqualung ZUMA BC (like wearing a backpack) with SPG bungied to my Airsource 3 BC inflator / OCTO combo and wear two wrist computers. I'm even diving 50 year old CRESSI Rondine copy black rubber fins and get around fine even in some currents of Indonesia and Philippines where I did 3 trips the last 5 months. So much gear is clunky and about as streamlined as a Mack truck.
I see way too many people with so much crap on and know they're simply not enjoying diving anymore
Along with making gear too complicated is the one elephant in the room which will continue to shrink the overall sport scuba industry......Liability.....I worry about people diving who lie on their forms ("No sir, I'm not taking any meds!") and always overestimate their physical capability.
That said several folks in their 70s that travel with me are smart. They pass on current dives or if not feeling up to 3-4-5 dives / day. I love those folks and will accommodate needs such as gear donning and doffing in the water plus finding easy destinations they'll enjoy as a dive vacation.
Air stations for diving locally may also become the norm. I go to a guy with a "dive shop" but it's mainly a hydro and air fill station 13 miles from me. He makes more $$$$ doing hydros than teaching or selling any equipment. Heck, he's retired from an auto plant job and has a mansion in Manila where he spends his winters. Smart guy.....
As to even trying to patronize your local shop I have had similar situations at a few "modern" dive shops. I take in my 71.2 steel tank that's in hydro and VIP and they won't fill it saying their policy is nothing older than 20 years. They try and justify it with the aluminum 80s neck cracks of 6351 alloy which I think was very very few failures if memory serves me.
My one Dacor 71.2 was born in 1961 and is as clean as whistle. I just sold all my other 71.2 tanks as I don't dive locally unless doing a pooI dive to test a new lens. I do go to the quarry maybe once a year to shoot photos for a Breast Cancer fund raising cookout event. I can rent a tank or fill my 71.2 cheaper there than keeping my previous 4 in service.
I guess my point is with all the knowledge on this site and history the bitter truth is: No one cares or will see it your way.....Get used to it but don't let it stop you from enjoying diving while we still can!
Theses days I am enjoying diving more than ever. I don't have anything to prove and use a small compact camera that produces fabulous photos and travels a whole lot easier. Or sometimes don't even take photos unless it's something that really interests me.
Have fun and dive safe!