UnhappyFranchisee.com has learned that the controversial founder (and former business partner of Cuppy’s Coffee founder Robert “Morg” Morgan) has died.
An email being circulated to friends, family and former associates reads:
For any of you who don’t yet know, Bruce Sharpe passed away from natural causes on December 1, 2008. He was happily living in Colombia.
He is much loved by many of us and he will be sorely missed by his many friends and family.
There are no plans for his service as of yet, but when we find out, we will pass the information along. If any one of you knows, please let the rest of us know. Thanks.
His son Larry is reportedly en route to Columbia to bring Mr. Sharpe’s body home to California.
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Bruce Sharpe was a controversial figure in franchising. He founded the Slender Lady Women’s Fitness chain as a head-to-head franchise competitor to Curves. According to a 2003 article in the Sacramento Business Journal:
Founder Bruce Sharpe, who used to work for the Gold’s Gym chain, opened his first Slender Lady in California in the mid-’90s and started franchising in 1998. Thirty opened, but then growth stalled. [Robert “Morg”] Morgan and John Verdugo joined Sharpe as partners last year, invested $500,000 and restructured the company.
By 2005, IHRSA reported that Slender Lady had sold 350 franchises and opened 150 units in the U.S. and Canada.
However, the chain was soon beset with failed franchise units, franchisee lawsuits and allegations of fraud and breach of contract by the franchisor. In April, 2005, The California Dept. of Corporations charged Slender Lady with making misrepresentations and omissions as to the level of training, assistance in marketing and advertising, Web site, and a commercial ad.
Based on the violations of California law, Corporations revoked the franchise registration of Slender Lady, issued a Desist and Refrain Order to CEO and founder Bruce Sharpe and his company to stop the offer and sales of unregistered franchises, and denied its application for renewal of franchise registration dated April 12, 2005.
What was left of Slender Lady was acquired by Healthy Inspirations in 2007. Jim Rowe, former majority stockholder of Slender Lady, is CEO of Healthy Inspirations.