Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Club™

A business proposal not just for one venue, but a chain of them. This would be a mashup of a coffeeshop, a country club, a craft beer bar, and a buying coop.

People pay something like $2000/year to be in The Club™ (not quite luxury, and plenty of value offered for the price. Comparables: Amazon Prime and airline lounge clubs).

The Club™ offers:
  • A quiet reading room, way more comfortable than a coffeeshop. Great wifi.
  • A bar.
  • A cozy screening room with an impressive library of Blu-Ray movies. Reserve a slot to play your choice, and the schedule gets publicly posted so others can join if interested, with discussion afterwards (plus less formal followup in bar).
  • A small store selling, at near cost, items normally marked way up (batteries, phone chargers and cables, etc.).
  • Fun member events...quality stuff (good lectures by interesting people - draw from membership if possible - badminton and backgammon tournaments, etc).
Coffee, drinks, and light snacks are priced only moderately above cost (bartenders are strict about not serving intoxicated people). Perhaps price rises at peak times, or when occupancy rises above X level.

Beer, wine, and snacks are super well-chosen. Seating is super comfortable. Bartenders are super friendly. The film library is super thoughtful. It's all super clean and super well-run. Elite in terms of quality, not hollow status/luxury (strict quality-mindedness attracts quality members; that's how Chowhound attracted such a great, friendly, expert crowd).

No live music performances in the screening room, because local music almost always sucks, and The Club™ is all about quality.

One-time visit fee $75. Guest fee $35. 

Employees are trained to encourage introductions and friendly interaction, particularly between dissimilar members, engendering this as core The Club™ culture. Members pick this up and do likewise for new members. Social structures are far more adaptive to modeling than people realize.

Rules are strictly enforced. Members can be kicked out (and refunded). Management weeds diligently to ensure a more attractive garden (another facet of the quality-mindedness).

I'm assuming Slog readers don't need to be explained that people need a place to go besides home and work, and current choices are not quite satisfying. Also, the digital age paradoxically makes us crave personal connection and social affiliation more than ever. Yes, British clubs are fading, but the need remains, and could be served by updating the concept and sucking out the musty stodginess.

I have no idea if the numbers could work, but, if not, there's surely a way to add on one or more revenue centers without losing the overall feeling of generosity. Just for one thing, if quality-minded members are attracted, that would be akin to the Chowhound audience, so my never-implemented marketing strategy might apply. As I wrote here:
Chowhounds' appreciation of quality obviously extends beyond food. Nutjobs who trek 75 miles for slightly better muffins don't watch whichever crappy movie is on at the multiplex, and they don't buy uncomfortable socks just because they're on sale at Kmart. They don't purchase lackluster bicycles or radios, and their music collections are full of people who can really sing. These are discerning and diligent consumers, mega brand-loyal folks who not only appreciate quality, but pretty much live for it...and evangelize it!

Companies with truly good products and services would love to connect with such consumers - consumers to whom they can pitch intelligently and on-the-merits. Companies like Virgin, Apple, Aveda, Saturn, Patagonia, and anyone with a particularly high-quality, high-value product - especially the new-and-exciting - could count on chowhounds to take interest, to early-adopt, and to spread word with ferocious passion. Where else can one find an audience so precisely tuned for that? It's a rare occurence, because such people, like cats, resist being gathered.
Would club members likely roll their eyes at a demo of new Tesla or Apple tech? Would they ignore really interesting and intelligent pitches re: genuinely cool things before film screenings, and on wall-mounted monitors?

While I'm not expert re: physical plant issues, I'd imagine you could repurpose franchises out of defunct hotels, gyms, etc.

1 comment:

Display Name said...

I like this Jim. I have two places myself to go besides home and work. My gym can be very kind, for example almost everyone holds the door for everyone else and the conversation in the sauna really is just like in the movies in that it's like a very hot dry confessional booth. I am a gamer so card shops work for me too. It has been said many times that gamers were shunned in some way in their childhoods, often by their own families as well as at school so they can be accepting to a fault. Not weeding individuals who are truly ruining the fun for everyone. Kicking out people who need to go bye bye is the really tricky part. But make sure to have a gaming venue: cards, d and d, board games, warhammer etc and I'll be there, specially if I can sip a great beer while playing. And a fireplace.

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