CURVES One Club’s Struggle for Survival

(Unhappy Franchisee) Not long ago, there were three Curves franchised fitness clubs in Palo Alto, CA.  Now there is one.

According to Zohra Ashpari’s story in the Palo Alto Weekly, franchise owner Susan Empey is battling a poor economy and lower priced competition to keep from joining the growing ranks of Curves failures.

Curves’ express women’s fitness competitor Butterfly Life is faring no better.  Butterfly Life’s Fashion Island branch closed a few years ago, and its last remaining Palo Alto branch is closing April 15th.

Reasons cited for Curves failures:  saturation, economy, price & apathy

Ashpari (who, incidentally, read UnhappyFranchisee.com in researching Curves), indicates a number of reasons for the Curves closures in Palo Alto and elsewhere.  Do you agree?  Feel free to add your opinion below.

Market saturation.  According to broker Todd Lipton, “the proliferation of franchises quickly saturated the market.”

Recession.  Curves franchisee Empey says “People are losing their jobs, and exercise to some may have become a non-essential expense.”

High price point.    “The up-and-coming franchises and licensing companies that we see now are priced… as low as $10-19 a month,” according to Lipton.  “Curves currently charges about $44 a month, a few dollars more or fewer depending on services.”

Member apathy.  Curves may simply be failing to motivate or inspire members to make its program a priority:  “Curves club member Anna Richert of Menlo Park said that some may have walked away because they were paying but not going to the gym.”

According to the article, the Susan Empey’s gym was the first of Curves franchise to open in Palo Alto.  Now it is “the last one standing.”

We hope that the closings of the other clubs will now allow Empey’s franchise to survive… and that Curves will not sell new franchises in areas, like Palo Alto, where previous franchisees have failed.

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