Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Deathstar

So yeah, when this $50 million Recreation Center debuts Golds Gym aka The Leading Edge in Amherst (not to be confused with the super-cheap Leading Edge lite in Greenfield), and Planet Fitness in Hadley--that other predatory pricing guru, will be vaporized.

Too bad the Israeli Air Force does not hire out as mercenaries for a preemptive strike.

On another similar, albeit smaller, note: You would think the Collegian would teach their cub reporters to ask questions like “Hmmm…don’t you need a state license for this?” Or “Don’t you think this is unfair competition for barbers who do pay for that license--not to mention renting commercial space that pays property taxes and all those other associated costs of doing business?????

The Collegian Reports (as a puff piece, not an expose)

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just wait for the scream of "discrimination" when the Barber Police come out and ask to see his license...

Gavin Andresen said...

Umm, isn't it kinda ridiculous that you need a LICENSE to cut somebody's hair for money?

I mean, if it's dangerous enough to require a license, then we should make it illegal to cut your own or somebody else's hair for free...

LarryK4 said...

Well, the scissors are kinda sharp.

I actually tried to link this morning to my friends at the Local Buzz (internet savvy media types) where they also point out that “Hairdressing” is licensed by our state differently.

http://www.masslive.com/localbuzz/index.ssf/2009/02/what_weve_learned_about_barber.html

Anonymous said...

Gavin, a license insures that the barber knows the proper practices to protect you from lice, etc. from the customer before you. Or if someone gets nicked and there is blood left on anything.
Ew.

Ed said...

A barber's license also addresses health and sanitation issues -- much more relevant before than now.

Think head lice - want that spread from customer to customer? You notice they are dipping the sissors in stuff and spraying the clippers with stuff and it is probably for a good reason.

I know that the Barber Police do inspect barbershops - I am not sure what they are looking for or how relevant most of it is (I am told that the barber pole is a requirement) but I suspect there might be some sanitation issues.

S.P. Sullivan said...

I think operating an unlicensed barbershop in a Springfield storefront and cutting kids' hair on the cheap in Southwest are two different things.

You grownups can argue about policy semantics and Board of Ed politics. These kids are too busy getting an education to worry about the licensure of their buddy giving them a shape-up.

Gavin Andresen said...

It seems to me that any barber that spread lice to her clients would soon be out of business, license or no. I'd say that anybody who caught head lice from a barber aught to be able to sue them in small claims court for damages, too...

Professional licenses are almost never about safety. They're about preventing competition-- that's why there are usually requirements for some type of apprenticeship (look up the MA regulations to become a licensed film projector operator if you want a good example).

LarryK4 said...

So would you like to find out a restaurant has unsanitary conditions by contracting food poisoning?

(It helps, of course, if workers wash their hands in hot water.)

Anonymous said...

Planet Fitness will still be cheaper for any off-campus student. It has free parking.

Gavin Andresen said...

RE: restaurants and food poisoning: I DID find out that at least two restaurants had unsanitary conditions from food poisoning incidents-- one when I lived in California (don't eat at the Mongolian BBQ restaurant in downtown Mountain View), and one in Hadley (the now-defunct Olde Hadleigh Grille made my mother-in-law very sick for a few hours).

Public shaming of dirty restaurants seems to work pretty well, by the way; this is a fascinating study:
http://www.cspinet.org/dirtydining/HospitalizationsStudy.pdf

LarryK4 said...

Anon: 5:49 PM:

Yeah, but when happens when some nitwit/s open a "Universe Fitness" where they PAY YOU to bring your sorry fat ass in to work out?

AND provide free parking; AND do your dry-cleaning--if you have any decent clothing worthy of the process...

Anonymous said...

Business models change. Your business model; the old dingy club with gross bathrooms, and smelly washing machines in the aerobics room, went out with the Flock of Seagulls haircut.

LarryK4 said...

Can tell you have not been around for a while. We took out the washer/drier a couple years ago when we expanded the downstairs aerobics room because my partner's Mixed Martial Arts classes (something the Deathstar probably will not offer)became so popular.

I actually now do the towels at my house in super-efficient units purchased from Manny's (yeah, there's probably a Chinese Laundry joke in there somewhere)

Anonymous said...

Yes Blogger. We all know you have a great business plan. Do your partners know about the potentially paying customers you turn away from your club by your junior high school insults? Hey, how about a banner downtown. Haul your sorry fat asses to the AAC. We charge more than the competition, but at AAC, you get attitude for free.
Yes, the Deathstar will be the death of those clubs without a proper business plan. Any betters on the survivors out there?
I'm told the folks at Hampshire Athletic Club are very pleasant to the customers and prospective customers. Yes, I know, I'm a nitwit. ouch.

Anonymous said...

There's a plan turn AAC into Amherst's first homeless shelter. Several hundred grand in CDBG money is ready to go, and federal stimulus money will be added as needed. (That will put Larry out of business, but he could apply for a pubic-sector job and serve as the shelter manager, keeping those homeless nitwits in line - and entertained too!)

LarryK4 said...

And I would maybe get Presidents Day off with pay.

Not too mention Bunker Hill Day (well, only if I relocate to Suffolk County)

Anonymous said...

Blogger -
Enough of the bs about how easy state employees have it. Few of them have time to blog away 24/7. A day off means no classes for the profs; it doesn't mean no work. Just kidding of course.... what a bunch of free-loaders those state employees are!

Actually, I disagree with you, so that makes me.... a nitwit. No, I didn't sign my name. That makes me... a coward. Yes, I haul my not-so-fat ass to the far less expensive but clean and friendly alternative to AAC. And if they'll let me join, I'll probably go to the Deathstar. Did I say that I wonder if your partners know the number of people that you send away? Hmmm

Anonymous said...

Hey Larry, Chrysler just pulled the plug on the PT Cruiser. Their spokesperson said it went out with drab health clubs and Tae-bo tapes.

LarryK4 said...

Anon: 8:40 PM (Nitwit/Coward)

Yeah, you did.

20 or so years ago when I actually worried about that after somebody (now dead) mentioned that in a Letter to the Editor of the Ultra Crusty Bulletin (concerning Cherry Hill of course) my partner said to me "For every person who will never set foot in this place because of your public stance, there's one who will go out of their way to come here for that very same reason."

I believe it's called a wash.

Anon 8:53
At least Chrysler did not pull the plug on themselves (Why, when we taxpayers can bail them out)

Anonymous said...

You say tomato. I call it wishful thinking. The thing is that there are reasons that people don't go to particular businesses, but there are few that people avoid purely because one of the partners is nasty and ridicules the customers with childish insults. I guess if the business is doing that well, and no fear of friendly competition, then damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

LarryK4 said...

Since when were you a customer?

Competitor maybe. And a cowardly one at that.

Anonymous said...

You like to call people nitwits and cowards. You seem to do it with distrubing regularity.

LarryK4 said...

And of the hundred thousand or so customers I have dealt with over the past 27 years who many do you think I have called nitwit or coward?

In fact, I even keep politics out of the club because I know folks--especially these days--work out to get away from bad news.

Last night in my spin class all I shouted about was hugging trees.

Anonymous said...

I have seen this a hundred times, a failing business tells you how well they do everything. You sound like GM and Chrysler. Every statement they make is about how they've been making great cars that people love when the fact is people have been avoiding them in droves. You better get real about your business before you are having your sad-faced day n bankruptcy court.

LarryK4 said...

I never said I do anything particulary well.

After all, I only made #3 in the country in Sport Karate (my goal of course was #1)

I received my degree from Umass (Harvard was a tad too expensive) in Exercise Science/Sport Management, but certainly was not #1 (or even #3) in my class.

And I've only been running my little Mom and Pop for 27 years and one month.

And only blogging for just under two years.

A recreation business is normally valued at 2 or 3 times annual revenues. And that number would more than cover my outstanding debt.

Anonymous said...

"After all, I only made #3 in the country in Sport Karate (my goal of course was #1)"

Being an athlete is not the same as being a businessman. You had a nice place when there was less competition.

The value of a business is established when it is sold. Try and sell it and see if there are any takers. I doubt that a run down health club will bring much but good luck.

LarryK4 said...

I actually learned that lesson 35 years ago during the "Bruce Lee" era when Karate schools increased tenfold and within a year or two over 50% perished. Just because you have a good hook kick don't make you a good businessowner.

That is precisely why I studied Sport Management at Umass (minored in Journalism of course.

Yeah, there was a tad less competition 15 or 20 years ago, but still: The Gym at Mt. Farms Mall, Flex Fitness on University Drive, Ultimate Fitness at Stop and Shop plaza, KidsSports (now ironically home to my child's Chinese Charter School), even the venerable Curves (at one time the #1 franchise in the fitness industy)and of course that Club on the Sunderland/Amherst border (originally called Amherst Raquet and Fitness) all WERE comepition...now dead.

And when the Deathstar opens...

Hampshire Athletic Club (formerly Hampshire Fitness) will do just fine and may even benefit by the demise of other private entities.

Anonymous said...

Colleges have workout facilities. All of them do. This is something that every health club faces and the ones that market well, provide special classes and equipment survive by drawing people who are not affiliated with the college. It is no different than any off-campus business faces. This is a facility for students and staff not outside people. The university provides housing, dining commons, retail outlets, libraries, stages and arenas, health care, galleries and all kinds of services and facilities that can also be found off-campus. All those businesses find a way to flourish.

LarryK4 said...

Key phrase: "for students and staff and not outside people". Like the Professor's wife and children, or the janitors wife and children, of the friend of a friend of a friend.

Yeah, I have no problem whatsoever with Umass adding to basic services for Staff and Students and I honestly believe (like providing hot water in lavatories) that fitness is pretty freakin basic.

Anonymous said...

I think we should ban the spouse and children. They should have to go to Larry's. Perhaps we can make it a state law.

Anonymous said...

The Deathstar won't stand a chance against larry's most fearsome weapon, equipment from 1986.

LarryK4 said...

Actually, I believe I’m the only Club in The Valley with the commercial Nautilus TC916 that really does provide twice the workout as a treadmill (although I wish it did not weigh 700 pounds--our machine room being on the second floor and all that.

And I also believe we are the only club with the Expresso Virtual Reality Bike, or even the somewhat low-tech but newer version of the Concept 11 Rower, the Model D.

And how would you even know what equipment was out in 1986--when you were not even born?

February 20, 2009 said...

Hampshire Fitness has 2 Expresso bikes, with an excellent view of the pool (through the condensation-coated glass.)

Dunno what they've got for rowing machines and treadmill (but there are a lot of them.)

LarryK4 said...

Well, obviously I don't hang out too much at Hampshire Athletic Club (they used to be called Hampshire Fitness and I believe in the late 70's they were called "Amherst Aquatics" or something like that)

So guess what? That makes the the Amherst Athletic Club the "longest operating club in the Valley under the same Management".

But I'm not surprised (about them having Expresso bikes): As I haves said a few times, Perry Messer KNOWS (as does his right hand man Scott Finch) the business.

Which is why they do not charge $9.95 month

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but with a thousand members $10 a month equals $10,000 a month. Eat yer hear out.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah Nitwit, but when your rent (not too mention electricity, water/sewer, wages) is two or three times that...

Anonymous said...

Do you really think they are losing $20,000 a month or do you think that perhaps they have more than 1,000 members or pay less rent because they are in space that enters from behind the mall which is cheaper because it usually goes unrented?

LarryK4 said...

Well I do know they told the venerable Bully that they were putting $1 million into renovations and equipment (although they could buy slightly better brands).

And even in this day of low interest rates, the mortgage payment on a cool Mill would be around $10,000 per month.

And Hadley water/sewer rates are 33% higher than Amherst's (thus someone taking a shower five times per week probably costs them more than $9.95 a month).

And then there's electricity--especially when you're open 24/7

And then...

Anonymous said...

Planet Fitness buys used equipment from clubs that go out of business. There equipment costs are relatively low.

LarryK4 said...

Glad I'm not the only one who does that.

But a million is still a million, no matter how you divide it up.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Larry, that's just for PR purposes. They have a business model that works and pretending they don't is no way to size up your competition.

LarryK4 said...

Actually Bally's (you know the folks who also own a bunch of casinos) invented that "business model" 30 years go.

Although I'm not sure they had a "grunt alarm". Although they did use Cher Bono in some very slick, expensive TV ads.

Superlow monthly price for high-volume sales and then hope the customer 1) never shows up and 2) does not notice the small monthly charge on their credit card statement, or are too lazy or embarrassed to do anything about it (and since they are not showing up to exercise they are lazy and probably too embarrassed to admit it)

About a dozen years ago (when I knew some nitwit would try the "business model" here) I was talking with a former Bally Fitness VP who had s gone to work selling equipment for Stairmaster or Lifefitness and as a sidenote I asked if his former company would ever move into the Happy Valley:

"No," he responded "your population is way too small..."

Amherst, Hadley and Northampton's population have not increased since that conversation.

Anonymous said...

$9.95 clearly won't work for you because your place is small, but it's the new vusiness model that works for everyone else and pretending otherwise isn't going to help you. They're not losing $30,000 a month. You'd be better off figuring out how Planet Fitness makes their money than pretending they don't know how to make money. You couldn't get financing for a health club if you went to the bank with a business plan that loses money every month. The business has changed.

LarryK4 said...

Time will tell. It always does.

LarryK4 said...

And I forgot to mention that Bally's Fitness, the folks who invented the low-cost high-volume concept, recently declared bankruptcy for the second time in less than two years.

Must be of course the competition from their imitator "Planet Fitness"