Thursday, June 3, 2010

Coming Full Circle

My 'Journalism Ethics' course just started, # three-of-five required for a Certificate of Journalism. I'm reminded of my first J course taken on campus 28 years ago, 'Newswriting and Reporting'--where our initial in-class assignment, tapped out on electric typewriters, was to compose your own obituary. Not much to say at age 27.

The Amherst Athletic Club, my life for all these years since, is now dead. And no, it's not a planned or even at this point well thought out process. I had planned to close the Club--but not until 1/30/2012, our 30th anniversary.

The last year of business would have been fun, hopefully with numerous former members returning for a "going away workout" and casual remembrances of our youth.

The last few years have been far from fun. Three years ago we were the lowest priced club in the Valley. Last year we looked downright expensive compared to Planet Fitness at a predatory $9.95 month. And the collateral damage was even worse, as other full service clubs lowered their prices to compete.

And of course, Umass opened the $50 million Recreation Center (I affectionately dubbed 'The Deathstar') free to Umass undergrads and fairly cheap to join for employees or alumni, a demographic category that probably encompasses about half the population of Amherst.

But the Martial Arts will continue at this location...retreating back to our roots, as that is how we debuted at 'The Dead Mall' back in 1982. And the new 'Karate Kid' remake will certainly boost the instruction school industry as it did back in 1984.

Like the typical disgraced politician I could always invoke the "wants-to-spend-more-time-with-the-family" spin, and that would not be untrue. Since the coming of daughter #2, Jada, my physical involvement at the Club lessened rather dramatically. Plus my wife's professional travels to Asia are increasing; we've decided never to part for more than three weeks, so now the entire family goes.

What the Hell, there's always my first love, journalism--and isn't that a wide open field for employment these days? (Yes, sarcasm needs a special font.)

The Bully reports



Anonymous said...

On to new great things. Don't look back, just forward. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

I think you've got some talent for journalism and it certainly seems to be where your heart is. I think you've been marking time for a while at the AAC. You didn't seem to have the energy or resources for a major redo. New motto "Have pen, will travel." Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Deathstar wins. This isn't Star Wars, this is real life.

Anonymous said...

This brings up the issue of why the state is allowed to offer the same services as private businesses and not have to pay the same overhead. Property tax comes to the top of my list. Then there is income tax on all that money that does not go toward education.

Anonymous said...

Good luck.

As a member of the public sector, I know that you small business people work without a net.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Larry!


Ry Willey said...

Best of luck to you while you pursue your new career.

Anonymous said...

Best in everything...

Ed said...

Larry, there is a real need for a real investigative journalist in this town - and the "death star" and how it is not "free" to UMass students and how much cost shifting there has been is the first story needing to be investigated.

Then there is the farce that is the Jason Vassell case. From a judge who is also a UMass professor hearing the case (yes, I am not making this up) to SATF (public) money being stolen to fund Hoose/Ryan, to professors inciting violence and threatening terrorism, to the latest hint of a "medical condition", there is so much there to dig into.

So much more - and this isn't an end but a beginning....

uninformed local said...

Politics would seem a natural field for you, Larry. Maybe Ellen or Stan need some lively competition?

Max Hartshorne said...

Larry I'm sorry to hear you had to shutter down. But that's what we do, us business makers, we create, we try, we fail, we keep trying.

You'll make a great reporter, you are so diligent (you just need a little spell check) but in my publishing world, there are people making great $.

Like me, what the J school should be teaching is that to be a paid writer you gotta be a publisher. You've got a great potential road ahead if you find the right niche. Good luck Larry!

Ed said...

Larry, why don't you run for a Selectboard Seat?

Anonymous said...

You would be great. A thin-skinned blowhard. Just what we need.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the end of your club, and good luck with your future endeavors. UMass' new gym is tough competition; they are offering summer length memberships for only $40 for all students, staff, etc. During the school year though, its about $40/month for grad students, faculty, & staff, not much different than other gyms in the area, including what your gym charged.

I wonder if LeadingEdge (aka Golds) will make it. There are some real management issues there. They lowered their prices to compete with Planet Fitness and it worked for a while, but when it stopped working (when UMass opened its new facility),they instituted a new pricing structure which results in members paying more than they originally paid before. In about 1 years time, they changed their pricing 3-4+ times, which is not the way to keep members. They have lost quite a few, including most of the people I know who were going there.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, as somebody dialed in to local and state politics I hate to admit if you asked me eight or nine years ago would Umass manage to open a $50 million Recreation Center by 2010 I would have said the chances are "less than zero."

So I can't blame Golds (AKA Leading Edge) for opening when they did targeting--as so many businesses have over the past few generations--students.

But the original partners who own a few Golds in Boston figured it out pretty quick and sold off their shares well before the Rec Center opened.

So even back then, they realized revenues were not living up to the enthusiastic hype Mr. Earle sold them.

Going from $80/month down to $19.95 is quite the dramatic drop--especially when you have such a high overhead.

Townies remember that the venerable Louis Food Market relocated from Amherst Town Center into that complex they built and soon went bankrupt.

The new management company did get a deal buying the entire complex at auction, but they still paid millions so rent can't be ultra cheap.

Video To Go also relocated from town center to a small storefront next to Golds (now occupied by a liquor store) at $5,000 per month then relocated to Greenfield to escape that high rent and quickly went out of business (interesting that Mr. Earle opened a second ultra low-cost Gym location in Greenfield.)

Even with my club now gone, there are still, at least, one too many clubs this side of the Bridge.

It's only a matter of time now...