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ED May 2017

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ED Magazine May 2017 67 www.theEDexpo.com LK: You have different entertainers and customers now with an urban club. How are they similar and how are they dissimilar to those of the Toy Chest's previous incarnation? RK: Club entertainers in both cases are similarly motivated. They want to be at a club that's run in an orderly fashion. They want to be able to make money to feed their families. They still rely on gratuities. We maintain the same standards of cleanliness. So their motivations are exactly the same. Where it differs is that the urban entertainers don't do private VIP room dances. We have no VIP rooms, whatsoever. They're much more interested in actually dancing; they're better entertainers. They want to be a part of the party, whereas the white entertainers come on a more exploitive basis. They are coming to take as many dollars from the customers as possible. And the physical attributes differ. African American customers favor thicker girls with bigger booties. LK: Do you think urban entertainers enjoy what they're doing more than white entertainers, with the current state of the white clubs? RK: Absolutely! Just think how ugly and difficult it must be for an entertainer to come to a club expecting to spend her time in VIP rooms. While in the urban environment, the girls have more fun; they generally don't touch the customers. There is some cheating – which we put a stop to, but not nearly that of the white clubs. They spend more effort dancing on stage and then customers tip them for it, far more than at white clubs. Customers will "make it rain" to the tune of hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time. LK: Many urban clubs have experienced violence and problems with gangs. You haven't had these issues at the Toy Chest and knowing you, I'm sure that's not just a matter of luck. What's your formula to avoid these headaches? RK: We don't admit customers under the age of 25. There's a relationship between age and violence in the urban environment. Trouble follows younger customers so we work hard at keeping an older clientele. We have a lot of security, inside and out. We hire older staff – our doormen are in their 40's and 50's. We're very careful which promoters we bring in. We use ones that provide entertainment that attracts an older clientele. For the most part, we avoid the young rapper types. And Deion has been instrumental in attracting an older clientele who come to enjoy the environment and not cause trouble. The respect Deion commands in the community has helped to keep troubling influences from trying to come in and challenge the club. And the Toy Chest is a very active participant in ACE of Michigan's Good Neighbor program. We are very involved in our community. We work hard to make sure the police see us as good neighbors. LK: Does overseeing an urban club demand more of your time? RK: The needs have been so substantial that my wife, Alissa, has had to commit 60-70 hours a week to the club – often getting home at 5 a.m. – since we made the conversion. She has focused on back-of-the-house needs and service. Alissa is an honors graduate of the Hospitality Management Program at the University of Toronto. She apprenticed at the Four Seasons Hotels' flagship Toronto property. She's devoted so much of her time and energy to bringing good service to the Toy Chest's customers. She and Deion have been the leading forces in keeping everything running smooth and maintaining quality control at the club. Before After SELLING OR BUYING A CLUB? Call Larry Kaplan for conscientious representation at reasonable rates. A respected industry insider for 20 years, Larry knows hundreds of club operators across the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the Western Pacific Region. He can find a buyer for your club, or a club to buy, while maintaining absolute confidentiality. Contact Larry at (313) 815-3311 or kaplanclubsales@gmail.com and jump-start your future!

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