Happy endings

I’m in a quandary.

For the last few weeks I’ve been advertising for a partner for the shop. Ideally I’m seeking someone with the experience and expertise to work within the business to take it to the next level, someone who has a big bag of cash. Potentially with the right person I’m no longer dragged into the shop every couple of days to deal with the issues only an owner can. And an injection of cash is always handy, particularly now, and would represent some return on investment.

I’ve had a few responses, but most pretty frivolous. One guy engaged with me so keen to get into the business that he would (very annoyingly) send me two or three emails  day. The problem was that despite his enthusiasm he had no cash to invest. He proposed working off his share, which is not only unsatisfactory, it’s barely feasible. I was pretty up front about this. A partnership with no money down is no partnership. You need skin in the game, and if there’s no skin in the game there’s no say in the business. The money is handy from my perspective, but more importantly it represents a commitment. I need someone in the business who has as much to lose as I do, which is a different thing from the prospect of making money. So no, that went nowhere.

Last weekend I got a call from a woman who very frankly admitted to me that she had worked in a brothel the last few years. I was taken aback, and was quick to tell her that my shop was completely legitimate. She was interested nonetheless, and so we arranged to meet.

We met yesterday. She looked through the place and was impressed. We went to the corner cafe then to discuss. Bottom line is that she proposed changing the business model. Not surprisingly, she reckons there’s a lot more money to be made serving men than the predominantly female customer base I have presently. That means giving happy endings, and more.

I have no moral qualms about this. If someone wants that service then good for him. I know people will often look down upon such men – and admittedly it’s difficult not to make a judgement – but I’m generally of the view that it’s not my business nor my concern. And in the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit to having a happy ending massage out of curiosity (and enjoyed it). Likewise, if there are women who are happy to provide that service then good for them. Not my business once more.

Now that’s pretty much my position, yet I’m experiencing a pervasive sense of disquiet about the situation. It’s not my business, sure – but do I want to be involved?

In any case I asked for her to explain to me how it would work. She told me she has the girls, no problem, and has the client base that will follow her. She described quite a slick operation, with girls changing every few weeks to keep it fresh. Basically, she told me, we’re selling a massage, and anything more than that is a matter for the customer and masseuse.

She told me how she had been looking for a place to buy, and found nothing, and so was thinking of setting up a parlour from scratch when she saw my ad. She’s been working in the industry, knows how much money can be made, and wants to set herself up for the future. All perfectly sensible. She went on to describe how I need never set foot in the place again – she’ll organise everything, and within 2-3 months – she said – the shop will be taking $3,000-$4,000 a day. That’s quite a lot.

We part with me saying I had to think about it. My natural reluctance to go that way is tempered by the pretty real prospect of very good returns. I repeat to myself again and again that if there is a willing market for this then it’s not my business. Take the money and run.

Still, I feel hesitant, for legitimate reasons and otherwise.

For a start when you take on a business as I did and work hard on it pouring in your heart and soul you begin to feel a very real sense of ownership, even responsibility. I’ve pitched the business at the high-end, towards a female clientele looking for an indulgent hour or two away from the stress and strain of regular life. To suddenly veer from that feels like an admission of defeat. It feels like cheating. In the same way I feel like I would be letting my clientele down, and even more so, my staff. Yet, I remind myself, this is a commercial venture. I’m in it to make money, not to struggle and strain and to be a good citizen. This has to be a commercial decision.

Ok, fine, but that hardly allays my hesitancy. I wonder if I want to be responsible for introducing such a venture into such a good and respectable neighbourhood? Yet I know after doing some research last night there are other such venues close by. Ok then, so is this who I want to be? By now I’m probably exaggerating it in my mind, but I feel like a pimp in waiting.

Truth is regardless of the facts, that I’d be a lot easier with this decision if the neighbourhood was less classy. There’s something very personal in this, as if I’m being judged and found wanting.

And you know the ridiculous thing? I could sell out to her without a share in the business she makes, and still feel that sour responsibility. I’m the one who let it happen. And yet, remember H, you’re here to make money.

It’s the money that complicates things. There is some possibility of selling the shop, though we haven’t really discussed it. From her conversation however I think it’s reasonable to believe I could sell for a 100% profit. That’s a nice return for 5 months. Against that is the financial allure of partnership. Let’s be conservative. Potentially given the fit-out of the shop and the opening hours a fully utilised service would bring in close to $6,000 a day (right now I average about $600). She’s talking big numbers, and knows her stuff, but let’s play it down and factor in an average daily return of $2,500. Multiply that by 7 and the weekly takings are $17,500. About a half of that, maybe a bit less, goes to the girls (add to that their tips and no wonder they’re happy to squeeze some strange’s cock). So, say $9,000 a week, less maybe another $1,000 in sundry costs = $8,000. If I have a 50% share of that I’m taking $4,000 a week without getting out of bed.

Can you understand the temptation (remembering I’m using conservative numbers)?

The smart business decision, assuming I get the right answers to some key questions, is to agree to a partnership. Pocket say $75,000 for the half-share I sell her, and rake in the income thereafter.

That’s my quandary. Is it simply about smart business decisions?

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