Friday, January 30, 2009

Boats against the current


The Amherst Athletic Club turns 27 today and I, twice that. We originally opened in what long-time locals still occasionally call Hadley’s “Dead Mall”—now very much alive with Wal Mart as the ultimate anchor.

And ironically enough new home to Planet Fitness, the low-cost—some would argue predatory pricing—franchise that thrives on high-volume memberships, where they hope the majority of members never actually show.

And since the rent has skyrocketed with the Mall’s revival, Planet Fitness will need a continuous flow of customers cascading through the door.

The three AAC owners huddled last night at the Irish bar out front to contemplate a strategy: do we continue limping along, or commit suicide (advertise the business for sale.) Or go for it, via a “surge.”

We chose to surge. Never surrender!

My 7-year-old daughter said she used the "cursive Y" to mimic the logo for Big-Y Supermarkets, our favorite grocery store.

Last year’s reflection

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Surge? You mean you are actually going to buy a broom and a map and clean? How about fixing the mirror in the main room? Or expanding your hours to match the edge? Or put up a new sign?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, actually, all of the above. Thanks for the suggestions.

Unlike the Amherst School Committee, I'm not afraid of an electronic suggestion box.

And 'The Edge' in Amherst is getting duller by the minute.

Anonymous said...

I know you will succeed if you put your heart into it and don't focus on all you've done but instead treat it as if this is a fresh endeavor. If you periodically treat your business as a start up you will bring to it all the energy you did way back when it was a start up. Onward and upward!

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I almost used that expression "onward and upward".

The priest who ran St. Michael's over in Northampton (Catholic schools were the original "Charter Schools" except not taxpayer funded) used it all the time.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, Sunday morning or some other quiet time, walk through the place with the attitude of someone who was considering buying the business. Pretend you are interested in buying AAC. Bring to it the same attitude as if someone in Greenfield offered you their club and you were going to make it your club. (It's like shopping for a new house. When you are not so attached to it, you have no problem changing the color of the wallpaper.) What would you love and what would you change?

Best,

A Fan

LarryK4 said...

Thanks, will do.

My wife, the Professor of Entrepreneurship (and fellow AAC owner), gives the very same advice to her students.

maryd said...

Happy Birthday Larry!

LarryK4 said...

Thanks Mary.
I hate to say it but we're heading out to a fancy restaurant outside Amherst in about an hour.

But we were at Judie's just a couple nights ago, so I don't feel too guilty.

Mary E.Carey said...

Happy Birthday, Larry! Less than two months till St. Patrick's Day and Only in Amherst's anniversary.

LarryK4 said...

Thanks Mary (the other one)

Yeah, the great thing about blogging is you simply sit down at the keyboard, slit open a vein and things start to flow.

I’m actually looking forward to my 100,000 visitor (currently at 95,229) that I hope will occur before my second year anniversary on St. Patty’s Day.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the club's b'day, and happy b'day to you. Just remember, you are getting better, not older.

Until later............

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the anniversary of your club Larry and Donna.
-Ryan

LarryK4 said...

Thanks Ryan.

Thanks Ethel (now you know why I did not cover the meeting last night with the Town Mangler)

Neil said...

The priest who ran St. Michael's over in Northampton (Catholic schools were the original "Charter Schools" except not taxpayer funded) used it all the time.

No exactly a charter school. Parish donations paid the freight, not taxpayers.

Anyway, are you talking about Father Jutt? Did you go there/take the bus from Amherst? If so, I'd love to hear from you who else was on the bus.

LarryK4 said...

I just meant they were an "alternative". Strangely enough my mother was a public school teacher (actually taught in Amherst for many years) but wanted her kids to go to the little Catholic school across the river (we were of course Irish Catholic).

Yes, Father Jutt indeed. Roger Bacon, my forever friend, was on that bus as well.

Helen said...

Happy Birthday Larry! And congrats on the anniversary of the club. As soon as my work picks up, I'll be back in to renew my membership!

LarryK4 said...

Thanks Helen!
Yeah, it's been a tough economic year for EVERYBODY.

A rising tide may indeed float all boats, but a tsunami swamps them.

Anonymous said...

Town Mangler did not come to our meeting last night. Wants to meet with Leagur of Women Voters first. I am really pissed.

Until later............

LarryK4 said...

I don't blame you in the least (I thought that was the main reason for the entire meeting).

Goes to show why Select Person Alisa Brewer told him NOT to show favoritism by designating one parade (if indeed they do it) over the other as the "official" Amherst parade.

In fact, at Monday's SB meeting he was careful to say "members" of the League were considering it, but not as an official function of the League itself.

Neil said...

Roger Bacon. Vic Keedy, his brother Blake? Can you remember anyone else? Some of the kids on the bus went to Sacred Heart till they shut it down, then Saint Mikes.

It was the western mass bus lines. I'm trying to remember the driver's name.

Did you ever spend your lunch money at Charlies (State Street Fruit Store)? I did. I drank my first vanilla coke at the soda fountain at Charlies.

Did you see this line in the article in the Bulletin about the parade: "Amherst firefighters and police officers will be able to march, but won't be able to wear official uniforms."

What a moron Shaffer is, telling the Amherst police and firemen when they can and can't wear their uniforms.

You're gonna have to smack him down hard for that.

Didn't I hear Stephanie say otherwise in the clip you posted?

Ed said...

I wonder if there would be either a problem with the National LWV and/or its 501c3 status if the Amherst LWV offically sponsored the political parade.

I am kinda thinking the former is a real likelyhood. Outside of Amherst, the LWV are politically neutral good-government people and that usually includes waving the US flag and love of country.

Ed said...

The way I look at it, it is either going to be Police/Fire in their Class A dress uniforms, or in union T shirts and jeans.

They either will be marching as departments or marching as the union members who are employed by the department. Federal law is quite clear on their right to do the latter, not that the Town Mangler is bright enough to realize that...

Now at some point he is going to be negotiating a new contract with these unions - in an environment that doesn't look good for the next few years. So does he really want to strengthen the unions and to have the community view the union leadership as the spokesmen for the departments?

This is a union leader's dream and from a management perspective, the absolute most stupid thing you can do. You have built animosity between the employees and you, you have strengthen the loyalty of the employees to the unions, and you have legitimized the unions as spokesmen for the line employees.

Stupid....

But then.....

LarryK4 said...

Neil,
Yeah, I just read the crusty Bulletin and I'm not sure Mr. Merzbach got that correct about police and fire NOT be able to wear town uniforms.

Clearly Stephanie reiterated that to the Town Mangler in the clip I uploaded.

And--even more clearly--if he tries that he will be toast.

Hmmm, other St. Mike's kids from Hadley: Donna Ciaglo (house directly in front of the Dead Mall now a window company) Dennis Lawrence (his dad was in charge of admissions for Umass in the early 1970s and that is how I learned earlier than the offical letter that I was accepted), Joe Sekier.

There were only a few of us from Amherst (mostly my two brothers and sister): we used to wait for the bus directly across from Randy's Store, now home to Attorney John Edwards, just below the Henry Hills House on Main street (formerly the Amherst Boys and Girls Club).

Gotta love the Keedy's. Even though there dad was coach at Amherst College the kids put up a ladder (their house was directly in front of the playing field) and offered to let people climb over the fence into the football games for 25 cents.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised about the uniform thing. The town does pay for those you know...

And I'm pretty sure the firefighters are still in negotiations. So get ready for union tees!

It will still be an embarrasment that we have trucks from all over and ours will be walking. I wouldn't be surprised if the other departments decline "other parade" involvement.

Another stupid Shaffer move.

Tony said...

Happy Birthday, and hang in there with AAC...look outside, it's raining big-brand names...

Neil said...

It's petty for the town manager to approve the parade permit and at the same time, prohibit the police and firemen from riding in town firetruck and police vehicles.

It's also unjustifiable because he is not articulating a reasonable standard for approving or disapproving of the use of these vehicles in parades. Is the standard, what Shaffer thinks is fair and reasonable punishment based on Shaffer's political beliefs?

I would consider drafting a letter to the SB asking if they back his policy on the vehicles, pointing out it's petty, and asking them to reveal the principle driving this.

I guarantee it is doing nothing for morale in those two departments.

Shaffer's ego is the size of Manhattan. When he doesn't get his way he tries to exact some price that reveals just how petty and just how willing he is to use his authority to stick it to the people he is hired to serve.

Anonymous said...

Yiu shoud arrive at a SB meeting some Monday and listen to this Bastard that is supposed to be serving the people of this town. Between him and Weiss, they are the two biggest Ass Holes in the entire world. I also thougfht, that being a veteran, Shaffer would at least try to understand what the private committee was trying to do, and not sabotage the parade. Wow, what an about face. Being part Indian, I call him on talking out of both sides of his mouth. Hatred is a bad thing, but I find it easy to hate this man.

Until later.................

Max Hartshorne said...

Happy birthday Larry. You're older than me? I thought for some reason you were a younger whippersnapper. I guess it's because I've got 2 grandkids and you're still raising the lil ones. I've become a big fan and rarely miss a day to read the stream of comments and your latest mission. Good advice from anon about how to look at the business, from an outsider's view.

Ed said...

The policy on town equipment that I would write - and for a reason - would be this: No one may use a town motor vehicle for anything other than its intended purpose and the departmental director's justification for doing so is required.

I can see a very valid public safety reason for a police car at the head of *every* parade, I would rather see a drunk driver take out the cruiser than the first three rows of the CYO band, and I would like to think that everyone (regardless of political views) would agree.

Or in other words, I would rather see a drunk driver take out a cruiser than the first three rows of the anti-American Dirty Hippie Brigade -- as much as I despise them, they *are* human beings....

Now on a more pragmatic note, while use of vehicles is one thing, it would be interesting to see what the town mangler could do were the police/fire to wear their Class A's in defiance of his order.

He would have to go through the union disciplinary process and each person would have a grievance hearing and further what exactly is the policy on off-duty wearing of the uniform in the first place? I have no doubt that cops/firefighters go into places like CVS (in uniform) to pick up something for a sick kid, Hastings to by a newspaper, etc.

As long as *everyone* in the department does it, I am not so sure that there really could be anything he could do. (And unless the unions are stupid, they should be negotiating parade participation rights into their next contract...)

Particularly if the selectboard disagrees with him on the uniform issue.

Now is the town mangler bright enough to pick his fights? I can't believe he was the manager of Keene as that is a fairly sane place with quite a bit of economic development, a major shopping hub.

Neil said...

A letter about the town withholding the use of police and fire vehicles for the 7/4 parade.