Thursday, May 21, 2009

Going Out of Business Sale

Anyone wanna buy a used massage parlor?

Yesterday when Audrey arrived at work, the first thing she said to me was "We have to talk." That's never a good phrase to hear whether you're a guy or a girl. I asked her what's up, and she led me outside so Trina couldn't hear.

The other day Audrey met with the landlord to discuss a few items, including the renewal of the lease in August. She's rented this space for about 5 years now and there have never been any issues before. The maintenance is good, the neighbors are quiet, etc. But, we pay almost double what the place is worth because we're a "nuisance" business (read my earlier post on the definition of a "nuisance business"). The landlord knows what we do here, but that sweet rent check keeps him from asking any questions.

That is until this week.

Audrey said that he got really weird on her. Bottom line is that he wants to raise our rent - A LOT. But that's not the weird part. The weird part is that he made some vague references to his "cut" of the business. I asked Audrey want the fuck that was supposed to mean, and even she wasn't sure. Apparently he used the word "cut" several times as both a threat and an offer.

Even though Audrey sometimes acts like a total hard-nosed bitch to us, she's a total pushover when it comes to others. And on top of that, she has a rotten business sense. Combine the 2 and you get the word "SUCKER" tattooed on the forehead. The entire time I've worked for her, I've see her make some incredibly boneheaded decisions like:

The Portable Spa

A single person hot tub that has sat magnificently in the corner of the storage closet - unassembled - for 3 years now.

The Billboard to Nowhere
1 year of billboard space on an unused backroad, pointing towards a patch of woods. To find this billboard, you would have to be totally lost since the road doesn't lead anywhere. Now - if you realized you were lost, turned around, slowed down to 15 mph , then looked waaaaaay to your right, you might get a glimpse of our ad. Unfortunately, you would have to either get a flat tire or crash your car if you wanted to have enough time to actually read it or copy down our phone number.

The LED Message Board
Audrey put in our lobby one of those flashing LED message boards that read out the date and time, plus whatever crap you want it to say. Now when our customers have to wait for a session, they can pretend they're sitting in the DMV.

And my personal favorite...

The Rub-N-Tug Mug
Two cases of customized coffee mugs with our name, phone number, and the words "You're In Good Hands!" Seriously - Audrey didn't get the joke. Some travelling salesman she had as a customer talked her into it. I think 2 of our therapeutic customers took one, and the rest just sat there for months. One day I started handing them out to every guy who walked in saying "Burn it, throw it away, run it over with your car, I don't care. Just take it." I swear - the dumpster out back must have had a dozen coffee mugs in it that night.

Anyway, the landlord also used the words "us" and "we" a few too many times. Audrey said she was totally creeped out by the conversation and is now seriously thinking of bailing when the lease comes up in August. I wouldn't blame her either.

I've seen firsthand what happens when a guy tries muscling in on a Business. It can be a boyfriend of the owner, or a "silent" partner, or some other creep who thinks they can blackmail his way in. At first he'll pretend like he's providing a service like "security." Pretty soon he's telling you to suck his dick if you want to keep your job. And finally, he changes the locks and says your boss has decided to "retire" and now he's in charge. That's what can happen when you're in a legally hazy business and you don't have much recourse.

Let me tell ya, it wouldn't be too hard to move. When you think about it, you only have to move some session rooms, a kitchen and living room, and we can set up shop again. The important thing is the name of the Business, so customers will be able to find us again. I even reminded Audrey that this would be a good time to add on that tanning salon we've always talked about. We would become equal partners in the tanning and I would manage that while she still managed the Business. Funny thing about the 2 businesses - they pretty much require the exact same layouts.

It sounds like the landlord might be trying the blackmail approach to getting a piece of the Business. Well fuck him - If this asshole wants some cash, let him come down here and jerk off a couple guys himself. We can use the help now that Candy's gone. But in the meanwhile, I'll make sure Audrey doesn't do anything stupid with this jerk.

I've always wanted to run my own tanning business, so maybe this'll be my chance. I'd probably still keep my shifts at the Business, but spend my spare time at the salon. I don't know, we'll see. It's all just talk right now, so I still have plenty of time to tell some juicy stories.



Leesa said...

It seems like you have enough know-how to run your own Business. If Audrey manages to screw this up, you should start your own, with or without the tanning part.

Advizor said...

I think you have this guy figured out. When ever the word "cut" is used, combined with a raise in rent, you know he's asking for a kickback of some kind, probably to hid it from the IRS.

The "we" and "us" language is also weird. He's trying to imply a relationship that doesn't exist. Not only is that desperate, it's borderline crazy.

I like the idea of a tanning salon/massage combination. You could build tanning lamps in to your massage table and save time.

I used to jerk off in the tanning beds all the time. The girl at the front desk was super hot and laying their naked just drove me to distraction...

A tan with options?

Athena Marie said...

Well I hope everything turns out for the best. I think you'd do great running a tanning salon. This dude sounds like a loser and you should just bail.

Peridot said...

Sounds bad, this landlord. Also make sure he won't try to threaten you with the cops either. Or try to find out where you move. If Audrey is a pushover like you say, then hopefully you can get her to lean your way instead of his. Keep us posted.

just bob said...

Good luck. All of us guys are pulling for you.

Anonymous said...

lots of commercial real estate sitting empty.
If you just look around, the second biggest mall operator is broke, just look for a strip mall
with a small space, spend $30/SF improving it,
don't pay excess rent. unless the improvement is
prorated into the rent and do not sign the lease personally.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with Anon. The landlord is nuts right now, no one can keep commercial space occupied and he is looking to raise rents and get an under the table 'cut'(or he might mean 'favors' from the girls instead).

Move. Guarantee you you can get a better deal than you guys have right now. There is just tons and tons of space available, chances are you wouldn't even have to move very far away.

cj said...

A trucker once told me about a place he used to go to in Tennesee. It was a tanning salon - WITH OPTIONS.

Apparently it was one of those word-of-mouth places, and he said all the truckers down there knew about it. You would go in and they would book you for a 15, 30, 45 or 60 minute session. Now if you know anything about tanning, you really shouldn't be in a booth for more than 15 minutes.

Then a tanning "attendant" would show you to your room with a real tanning booth. But, there was also a cot in each room. Then you made arrangements for whatever you wanted with the attendant. I guess this place was pure full service since there was no "massage" option.

What I can't figure out is how they kept out the people who really wanted tans.

So yes, there really is such a thing as a "tan with options!" LOL


mommasboy said...

"If this asshole wants some cash, let him come down here and jerk off a couple guys himself."

Yah, can you see that? _not_!!!!!

RIV said...

Sorry to hear what is happening, but I have to agree with others that this could be a new way for you to have a fresh start of sorts.

What another commenter has said, the owner of the place is being an idiot, there are plenty of places you can lease from with more favorable terms and he's going to lose a considerable amount of revenue.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck with whatever you plan on doing.

Anonymous said...

You have to make the whole thing professional though. Keep in mind that a bunch of regulars know where you are, so you don't really want to leave.

But you can't scream and bitch at the guy. He thinks that since it's just a bunch of women at the place, he can take advantage of you. You have to show him that you're much smarter than he is. Really, in this climate, you should be getting your rent lowered rather than raised.

Politely say to him, "I appreciate your offer, but I think it would be best for us to move to a newer and larger location."

If he says ok, then great. Time to find a better location (or actually have a location sought out and try to bid him against their offer). If he says he would rather keep you at the current rate, negotiate the rate down... because otherwise you'll move to the newer and nicer place.

One other thing... if he owns other locations, find out how they are doing. Have they closed? Are they about to end their lease? He may be strapped for cash, so he's trying to lean on you. But lean back and threaten (in a polite way) to leave him with even less rent coming in. Right now, he's not going to easily be able to find someone to fill your spot.

Anonymous said...

he wants a cut, remind him that makes him a partner and that if the police ever raid thye can use RICO to seize all his assets.