UPDATE: 10/26 Tuesday morning
So who needs reporters when we have Faceboook? Sounds like the meeting last night of Leading Edge "gym rats" at Basta e Basta was about as disorganized as the final days of the Club itself.
A former member reports:
Original upload: 10/25 Monday afternoon
The Springfield Republican reports (via a Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter)
So I'll try to be a tad less critical of my friends at the Gazette and Republican as today's Business Section long form article simultaneously published in both is a pretty good analysis of the current state of the volatile fitness market in the healthy, Happy Valley.
Reporter Scott Merzbach did his homework and even took into consideration feedback posted to the original Gazette breaking story (as late as it was) on the sudden closing of 'The Leading Edge' gym in Amherst and the diatribe the same nitwit posted on my blog.
The Anon insists of course that the appearance of a low-cost chain outlet like 'Planet Fitness' and the $50 million Rec Center (otherwise known as the Deathstar) going on-line one year ago, had little impact on 'The Leading Edge' and the "real story" was the soap opera antics of the two owners Peter Earle and Joanne Delong. Yeah, and Santa Claus is Muslim.
All the average person need do to assess the impact of a 'Planet Fitness' or others of that ilk is to consider what would happen with their buying habits if suddenly a sparkling new gas station (owned by a regional chain) opened on Rt. 9 in Hadley charging only $.69 for Regular--four times less than the prevailing price of $2.79?
Sure, somebody with business sense might wonder "How can they do that?"; but as long as you get your gas at that ridiculously cheap price, why would you care?'Bally Total Fitness' pioneered the low-cost, high-volume, pack-them-in-price modality 40 years ago, but they were smart enough to tie consumers in for 24 to 36 months to an unbreakable contract.
And when they killed the other clubs in the market they would also raise their rates.
'Planet Fitness' doesn't do that (I guess that is to their credit.) They simply sell as many memberships as possible at give away prices and hope most of their clients never show, which is probably close to the truth.
But I have to admit the soap opera aspects of the recent demise of 'The Leading Edge' is kind of fascinating. Apparently after the two experienced Gold's Gym franchise owners in Boston (who had given Peter Earle his start in the industry with a sales job) wisely bailed in 2004 two years after founding Gold's Gym Amherst, Ms. Delong--an attorney not known for her level of fitness--came to the rescue and bought in as half owner.
Interestingly she used her ownership of a business condo at 30 Boltwood Walk in town center as the major payment "transferring" one-half ownership to Mr. Earle. Although the legal papers (probably drawn up by her) were not legal and now Mr. Earle has filed a lawsuit against her.
Either way, I had toured that particular location in 2004 just after Pruddy Gomez finally gave up on his boisterous bar Amherst wished to quash for a slew of zoning violations. Interestingly, Pruddy used his landlord Joanne Delong as an attorney, so she was making money off his rent and his legal troubles.
Regardless, the place was beyond a dump by that point. I think the asking price was about $200,000 and if it was in turn-key shape I probably would have purchased it, but the state of disrepair required another major investment to rectify. At the time the valuation was $200,500.
Thus half-interest was worth $100,000. Sweet deal to buy half of Gold's Gym back when it still had that Gold Standard name for essentially a worthless piece of paper. According to industry standards a recreation business is valued at about double annual sales, and I assume Gold's did at least $1 million in sales in 2004, thus making the value of the business $2 million.
It would be interesting to see how much cash Ms. Delong came up with in addition to the worthless $100,000 property deed?