Saturday, April 18, 2009

Business Opportunity: Men-Only Gyms

I go to the gym about three times a week to run on the treadmill. One of my pet peeves is that the television choices are neither fish nor fowl; they're a peculiar mixture of men's and women's programming.

To wit, here is what's generally playing on the four screens, from left to right:

1. Oprah (for women and gay men)
2. ESPN (for hetero men)
3. Random club music videos (for women and gay men, except when a Shakira video is playing)
4. CNN (for both, I guess)

This makes for a disappointing experience for both genders.

There are tons of women-only gyms, and I can only assume that their TV lineup is more along the following lines:

1. Oprah
2. Entertainment/Gossip
3. Soap Operas & Sex and the City
4. Chick Flicks/Lifetime

Why not do the same for men? I played around with different lineups, and finally settled on the following base configuration:

3. Action Movies & Dumb Comedies
4. Pornography

Of course, during specific periods of the year, one might vary this up. For example, during March Madness, every TV should be showing NCAA basketball games.

Alternately, you could have theme nights, such as the following lineup:

1. Die Hard
2. Die Harder
3. Die Hard With A Vengeance
4. Live Free Or Die Hard

This is a gift that just keeps could also do Rocky, Rambo, Terminator, Lethal Weapon, and many many more!

When I did a quick search on men-only gyms, I turned up a few small outfits like this one, but I'm guessing they lack the vision to show all four Die Hard movies simultaneously. Time to jump on this concept. And let me know when you do, so I can sign up. I can't wait for "Deadliest Warrior" night!

And now, just for the hell of it, the Guyz Nite video for Die Hard:

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Wal-Mart Safety Net

As long-time readers know, I'm a huge critic of Wal-Mart's critics, who typically combine two characteristics I despise: A complete misunderstanding of economics, and a fundamentalist faith in the power of trade unions.

What these critics miss is that fact that Wal-Mart passes nearly all of the savings it squeezes out of its value chain straight to its customers, who are largely lower-income.

Wal-Mart is the single greatest benefactor to the underprivileged in the country.

A recent example of this appeared in Andrew Sullivan's blog. One of his readers had been laid off, and was worried about having to forgo needed medicines and treatment. Enter Wal-Mart:

I kept my COBRA going, but at $538/month, it became unsustainable. I let it lapse four months ago. Last month, I couldn't refill my high-blood pressure medications and I took my last thyroid pill on Saturday. I didn't know what I was to do. Kaiser wouldn't even let me PAY for my medications as I wasn't a member now.

I remembered Wal-Mart had these walk-in clinics. In desperation and fearing the worst, I went on Easter Sunday. The clinic was spotless, the doctor was a retired UCD Medical Center Professor who just wanted to keep his hand in and see patients, there wasn't any wait, the cost was only $59, and my prescriptions were only $9 each for a 100 days supply. Total with Wal-Mart: $86. With my Kaiser, I would have paid a $25 copay for the doctor visit and three $25 copays for each medication. Total with Kaiser: $100, but AFTER I paid $538/month to remain a member. Before Wal-Mart, my blood pressure was 123/186, today it is back down to 84/124.

To recap:

Costs with health insurance: $538/month for insurance plus $100 in out of pocket costs.
Costs with Wal-Mart: $0/month, plus $86 in out of pocket costs. And a better customer experience.

Thank you capitalism.

Chew on that, Barbara Ehrenreich.

P.S. Wal-Mart does not pay me for my opinions in any way, though my family does shop there frequently, and the kids love the pet fish section.

P.P.S. I wouldn't mind getting paid for my opinions in case any Wal-Mart executives happen to be reading this post (hint, hint)!