Monday, June 28, 2010

Why did Prodigy Fail?

The other night Mike and Suzanne Ramos, owners of the Club Prodigy, an under 21 club, sat in the middle of the city council chambers. The owners came before the council to speak about their failed business. They were angry, frustrated, bitter, and sad. And the whole time they seemed to be venting that the city council didn’t do enough to support their business and in effect had let it die.

The blame seems misplaced. The spectacle that took place in the council chambers makes it seem that the closing of Prodigy is somehow the fault of the city, but really why did Prodigy fail?

The Location?

If you don’t know where Club Prodigy was, it was right in the same building as Ocean State Job Lot in the space closest to America Street. If you’re familiar with the area you know that the plaza really just kind of runs into a residential neighborhood with no buffer zone to speak off. Now back in April the Herald said that about 40 neighbors got together to discuss the issues and concerns they had with the club. Noise particularly the thumping of bass late into the night was an inconvenience and nuisance to several neighbors. Really this shouldn’t be a surprise. I imagine every home near a club of some sort has issues with loud music. Didn’t Mr. and Mrs. Ramos consider this when looking for a location? I think it would have been the first thing I would have considered. Again the location they chose runs right into a residential neighborhood with no buffer to speak off. When the club would close the kids would spill out into the parking lot and many would walk home. Picture it, dozens of kids walking through a residential neighborhood late at night or early in the morning, laughing, joking, and calling out to friends. There were even complaints of kids urinating outside. Is it any wonder some neighbors had issues with the club? It seems it was recognized that the owners were making efforts, if late, to alleviate some of the issues they had with neighbors. I don’t think location is what caused Prodigy to fail.

The Press?

Prodigy’s owners seemed to insinuate that the negative press from the Herald News played a part in the clubs troubles, citing the stories in the paper and the “blogs” on the Herald website. Well I’ve read the stories I personally don’t think they were that negative or alarming, nor were there that many (2). As for the “blogs” as many seemed to support the club as didn’t. Oh, and they’re not blogs, they’re comments. THIS is a blog. Yes I know I’ve ranted about this before but for those of us who take the time to write original material for our blogs, it is an important difference.

The Council?

This is the most puzzling of all. What exactly did the council do to cause the club to fail? What exactly was the council supposed to do to support it? Maybe somebody will be kind enough to write a few COMMENTS here and let me know because I am at a loss to understand this one.

The Economy?

Now we’re getting somewhere! How much did it cost to open Club Prodigy? What were its monthly expenses? How much did they need to make a week to cover it all? The club charged $10 for entry. Where were kids getting this money from? For this age group I can imagine the majority of the money comes from mom and dad. Let’s see 18% unemployment, foreclosures on the rise, is it possible that enough kids weren’t coming to the club? And what was their marketing strategy? They talked about walking kids home and that makes me think they were pulling from just their immediate area. That’s not going to work. You can’t expect the same kids to go day after day or week after week. You’ve got to pull from the entire city and the surrounding communities. Were they doing that or trying to? If so I’m not sure their strategy was successful.


Starting a business is a risk, one that often fails. I would think before you go and protest at a council meeting maybe you’d take a good hard look at what YOU did wrong and what you didn’t properly plan for or foresee. You always hear that most new businesses fail and a quick Google search brings me to a statistic that says more than ½ will fail in the first 4 years. It’s a statistic that Prodigy’s owners should have been aware of. And why do so many fail? I can only assume it’s do to some flaw with the concept or the management. I am certainly assuming that is the case here.

What were they trying to do? It all gets played up as this fantastic service to provide a safe and fun place for teens to hang out, but really weren’t they trying to make money? They saw something they thought the city lacked and they opened up Prodigy with the expectations of it being a successful money maker. If that wasn’t the plan it should have been otherwise you’re opening up a business without knowing if it can sustain itself.

Why did Club Prodigy fail?

Without knowing the whole story, without seeing it all for ourselves, it is tough to know why Prodigy failed. I’m only making some observations and drawing conclusions from them, but I think they’re fair conclusions to make. How long was the club losing money? Did I hear right was it 7 or several months? I thought they said 7 at the council chambers which basically means almost from the start. That’s tough to blame anyone but yourselves for. If it was only ‘several’ and the losses came after the Herald’s story maybe they could make a case that the paper, the neighbors, and whatever else played a part. But I would argue that it could also just have been a downturn in business and their inability to weather it probably means that Prodigy was always fated to be one of those businesses that was never going to be around 4 years later.


shamrock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shamrock said...

Some pretty outrageous things happen at city council meetings, but the display by the Ramoses last week was notable. Anyone that can make me feel bad for Leo Pelletier and Joe Camara is, by definition, pretty outrageous.

While I certainly am sorry the couple's business failed, I don't understand how they can solely blame the city council, the herald news, and/or the neighbors who complained about the noise for their failure.

Several of the councilors attended meetings on their behalf and tried to arbitrate neighbor disputes, that seems above and beyond to me. But, the Ramoses complained that the city council didn't do enough for them and that the city council never thanked them for opening a business in Fall River, which in my opinion is just ridiculous.

They admitted they didn't make a profit for the first 6-7 months they were in business, perhaps that is more a statement on their business plan than a statement about how the city failed them. 13-18 year olds aren't a very good target audience if you want to make money, because they do not have any.

Their anger seems misplaced and perhaps a little self reflection would do them some good before they blame the city council for their failure.

Also, after watching the Ramoses in action, I can understand why any neighbors with complaints about the noise would not want to approach them.

Anonymous said...

By Kevin P. O'Connor
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Jun 27, 2010 @ 06:54 PM
FALL RIVER — You can travel the world, dancing and eating — without leaving Fall River.
What could be better than that?

Mayor Will Flanagan and The Herald News will throw a party, “Eat 2 The Beat,” on Sept. 4 at the Gates of the City.

So now The Sterile Snooze is BFF with Flannie. Looks like lil Willie got his money's worth when he put Lease A. Stratton husband on his transition team.

Anonymous said...

I agree Lefty, what a disgusting display at that Council meeting. The Ramos' are good people but their bitterness was totally misplaced and choosing the Council Chambers as their forum to vent was wrong too. All I got from watching it was that the Herald News and 8 City Councilors hate kids. The only one who loves kids in the city is Linda Pereira. I was wondering if this was some kind of orchestrated publicity stunt for the Linda for Mayor campaign.

Lazurusisus said...

Concerning the last posted comment - WTF? Try not drinking before posting.

I'm sorry, but the City Council is for community business, not a venting opportunity. MOVE THE QUESTION MR.PRESIDENT!

Lefty said...

The Linda love-fest was all the more amusing because it had nothing to do with the fact that they were cousins!

sunshine's grandaughter said...

I don't mean to begrudge the Ramoses but a simple business plan would have told you this business is bound to fail. You are paying a monthly lease on a space that you only open once a weekend. How did you actually think this was going to work?

Puck said...

Very good post, Lefty, that helps put this whole issue in perspective. I think the performance at the Council meeting was arranged by Cousin Linda as part of her campaign to bolster her own image as a future mayoral candidate. Her strategy totally backfired, as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis of this situation and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Why does all of Fall River hate our children except for Linda Pereira and her cousin?

Mr. Ramos is the same guy who went around to all of Bob-O's neighborhood meetings lecturing everyone about how negative they were and how great the BobFather was. I guess he is willing to be a tool for whomever whether it be Bob or Linda.

Linda must still be bitter that her boy lost the mayor's race so now she wants to launch her own venture. I think she would get her butt handed to her even worse then what happened in her State Rep race and that's saying something considering how far behind she finished in that one.