What’s in a name? How’s that for an open-ended question. Though this query stems from Shakespeare, it’s application has never waned. Names are vital, whether we’re talking about people, products or businesses.
In the strip club industry, names are just as important. Though we have our share of Diamonds, Golds, Platinums and all that is considered precious, the name
“Club SinRock” is a rare gem. While it may not necessarily sound innovative, there is a backstory which indicates that their name is something more than just a catchy moniker. Much more, actually, as it extends to the burgeoning club chain’s philosophy about their own personality and the level of entertainment they aim to provide.
“From early conception our company branding was a seriously thought-out process starting with the name,”says Tim Lyons, owner of four Club SinRock venues in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle and Portland, as well as Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska). “Without getting too philosophical or sentimental, the idea of just opening an average stereotypical strip club didn’t interest us and we wanted to start with a meaningful origin. After some research, we came upon some history of a small settlement called Sinrock just outside of Nome, Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush era where one woman in that region famously rose to prominence and great wealth during a time and in a place traditionally dominated by ruthless men.”
That woman was Mary Makrikoff — dubbed “Sinrock Mary” — who would go on to become the richest woman in Alaska at that time. “The name Sinrock was obviously symbolic of women empowered,” says Lyons, adding, “that’s what we wanted our brand to represent.”
It is this philosophy that serves as the foundation for Lyons’ Club SinRock venues, and is certainly a contributing factor in winning ED’s Club of the Year/West Region Award for their Portland club at the 2017 ED’s Awards Show. We had the chance to speak with Lyons about what makes the Portland club, and all of his clubs, unique to their markets and successful by any measure. – Dave Manack
ED: What does it mean to take home the honors for ED’s Club of the Year in the West Region?
LYONS: It was an absolute thrill to be recognized in such a way. We were all stunned, honestly. Our initial marketing goal this past year was to get our name onto that list of nominees so we felt like we hit our mark just being nominated alongside the other great clubs, so winning this award was over the top. Considering our Portland location was fairly new, opening in mid-2015 and being the virtual unknown, it did feel a bit like a David-and-Goliath scenario. But we knew we had earned our spot and we did represent a fresh unique brand.
“There are roughly 60-plus strip clubs in the Portland area with very few having, or wanting, a “gentlemen’s club” status, and therein lies the problem because we only operate gentlemen’s clubs. We did eventually see the cracks and the opportunity in the market which fit nicely into our business model, and we have since been very successful in Portland.”
— Club SinRock Owner Tim Lyons, winner of the ED’s Club of the Year/West Award for their Portland venue
Yes, there were those who reminded us that the Northwest clubs didn’t do so well traditionally against the Southwest clubs, but I say you can’t win if you don’t run the race. Our Portland team of staff ran their butts off the previous year all the way up to the EXPO, with continuous monthly events courtesy of Dick Hennessey Promotions. This kept our name out front of the pack on every aspect of entertaining Portlanders in a way they had not experienced before, and they were truly hungry for it. We want to commend our club managers, Eddie Granados Jr. and Keoni Malunay, who were very instrumental in our achievement; we also need to acknowledge our rockstar of an Assistant GM, Rebeckah Lyons. The overall response with us bringing this award to Portland has been amazing. Not only did we win the award but one of our gorgeous entertainers (Brook “Ariel” Jimenez) took third overall in the highly competitive $10,000 Bikini Contest, so we were feeling pretty pumped after the EXPO.
ED: Portland is known as one of the world’s strip club capitals, but it also makes for a fierce market. What made you decide to open in Portland with such competition?
LYONS: It became apparent about five years into our business model that if we were going to be serious about operating in this industry we would need to throw our hat into the ring in Portland. Now, we’ve placed ourselves in the Northwest market that has access to the thousands of entertainers swimming around from club to club.
Although Portland enjoys great strip club commerce with the liberal adult laws, we were not convinced for some time that it was a viable market especially since Oregon has most of its bar/club owners on an income subsidy plan called “Oregon Lottery,” which provides marginal clubs a firewall against the true nature of competition. You have to understand there are roughly 60-plus strip clubs in the Portland area with very few having, or wanting, a “gentlemen’s club” status, and therein lies the problem because we only operate gentlemen’s clubs. We did eventually see the cracks and the opportunity in the market which fit nicely into our business model, and we have since been very successful in Portland.
ED: When did you open the first Club SinRock, and how did you evolve into multiple locations?
LYONS: We opened our first club in Anchorage, Alaska in 2007. We have since opened four Club SinRock locations since 2007, covering Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seattle/Renton, and Portland, of course, in 2015. We have evolved into the new locations over the course of 10 years with a general strategy to have overlapped markets between each club. Fairbanks is the most extreme of northern locations for a gentleman’s club where it’s not uncommon for a winter night to be -45 below zero and business as usual.
ED: What is the Club SinRock philosophy, and what separates you from other clubs or brands?
LYONS: It’s all about delivering the ultimate experience to our customer on every level. Usually when a customer pulls up to a gentlemen’s club they have the burned-in-the-brain preconceived idea of what they’re about to see when they walk into the room, but not at Club SinRock. We see the same reoccurring response: “Oh wow, this is nice, this is really different.” All of our clubs come with a very distinct and unique SinRock brand that is all of its own, showcasing handcrafted interiors flowing from corner to corner, creating an upscale, modern, sultry, Victorian-Goth atmosphere. Patrons are taken on a journey with a steady drip of erotic energy that is soaked in equally between our beautiful performers floating about and our customers seeking a break from the outside world. We absolutely are in the business to entertain, and that is what our customers experience whenever visiting our establishments.
Although we do operate with sophistication, we would like to be known for paying attention to the finer details. Most importantly we offer our customers choices in entertainment so they can decide how to spend their time and money with options that vary from our cozy intimate Vault Rooms to our larger Vault Lounges, which showcase a personalized bar and sound system for the larger private parties or the ballers.
The basic bones of our business approach is to make sure we are connecting with our customer on all sensory levels. It’s always our goal to assure a customer that when they walk into our club, they are able to draw from multiple satisfying experiences before they leave and it must be more than just the beauty on stage; otherwise, we are just offering them the one legged stool. We can go on about how great our unique brand is but let’s face it, the amazing, beautiful SinRock Angels are the biggest draw at any Club SinRock and we couldn’t do this without them. We hold all of our entertainers in the highest regard and consider our organization very fortunate to have so many talented and amazing entertainers in the northwest who call us their home club.
ED: What are the biggest challenges you see coming for the industry from your perspective?
LYONS: I think complacency is the single biggest threat to any business or brand, JC Penney being a prime example. We can, at times, be our own worst enemy, especially regarding employment practice issues and the employment status issues regarding entertainers. We feel that if we consistently operate our organization in a professional manner like a true business and we retain competent management and staff, we are less of a target. There is never going to be a silver bullet for some of these moving target issues, but we can do a lot to mitigate our exposure and reduce the potential liabilities. We are also members in the local ACE statewide chapter for Oregon and take a proactive role with getting ahead of issues and keeping ourselves informed of our industry.
ED: What does 2018 have in store for you and the Club SinRock venues?
LYONS: Our primary goal always starts with focusing on that customer who is coming through the door right now. We are always in a forward motion and expect to be announcing new locations in the coming year that will showcase our unique, sultry brand in new markets. After numerous inquiries in the past few years about licensing opportunities, we have also formed a team that is currently formulating a licensee package program for the CLUB SINROCK brand which will be available soon. We are progressing with this growth very cautiously, as expansion can be a dangerous game.
Our company is continually focusing on the modernization of our clubs with the technology and innovation that our customers are accustomed to in their everyday lives. We also keep our eye on the fluidity of the internet and the fast developing virtual reality (VR) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology which, while it still has its place in the world, will never replicate the warm, flesh-and-blood human experience which is still in high demand in our industry. So although we don’t see the need to reinvent the wheel, we are always retrofitting that wheel with new technology to stay relevant and keep on the cutting edge to serve our customers best and grow our market.
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