(Note: This story appears in the May 2023 issue of ED Magazine)
She started as an 18-year-old entertainer, yet today Winter Finck is the Operations Manager for Consolidated Clubs’ venues in Washington state. Here, Finck describes her journey through the ranks at Consolidated, and how she helps oversee clubs with varying clienteles and personalities.
hey say that the more positions you’ve stood in at a business, the better you can oversee that business. A testament to this, few people know more about the inner workings of adult nightclubs than Consolidated Clubs’ Washington State Operations Manager, Winter Finck. Finck started her professional life in 1993 as an entertainer at one of Consolidated’s Seattle Déjà Vu clubs. She is about to mark her 30th anniversary with the only company she’s ever worked with in the only industry she’s ever known.
ED Legal Correspondent Larry Kaplan spoke with Finck about the good times and the bad, overseeing Consolidated’s seven Washington State Clubs and its company-wide operations, as well as what’s changed and what’s remained the same since she first walked into a Seattle adult nightclub in 1993.
ED: You started as an entertainer in Seattle with Consolidated, then moved into management. Tell me about your evolution to eventually overseeing multiple clubs.
FINCK: I started in the industry in Seattle as an entertainer just a few days after my 18th birthday. So I’m incredibly fortunate that, at this point, this is the only industry that I’ve ever known. I will soon mark my 30th anniversary with Consolidated. After dancing, I worked in club management and was the GM of Déjà Vu Showgirls Seattle, a successful location, for several years. The supervisor at the time, Matthew Teasley, eventually promoted me to a regional supervisory position.
“Roger [Forbes] taught me to always adhere to the fundamentals. He taught me that the manager always sets the tone. Always pay attention to the essential aspects of the environment — how the property looks, the lighting levels, and the club energy — and keep the entertainment going continuously. Every day is an opportunity to do a better job than you did the previous day.”
– Winter Finck
ED: You oversee the seven Washington state Consolidated clubs. Can you tell me a little about each and how they differ?
FINCK: Déjà Vu Showgirls Lake City, Dreamgirls at Rick’s Seattle and Déjà Vu Showgirls Spokane are suburban locations. Lake City has a great day shift. Dreamgirls at Fox’s Tacoma is also a suburban location close to a military base. So while all those locations have a primarily strong local, regular client base due to their locations, Dreamgirls at Fox’s sees more military clientele. Déjà Vu Showgirls Lake City’s day shift is spectacular. It was Consolidated’s very first club.
Déjà Vu Showgirls Seattle, the Devil’s Triangle Seattle, and Dreamgirls SoDo Seattle are clubs in the downtown core. They typically have a more transient customer base, many tourists, and huge upswings from concerts, sporting events, and conventions. Dreamgirls SoDo is adjacent to the city’s two major sporting arenas. Their guest base changes depending on which specific event the arenas are hosting.
ED: What are the advantages and disadvantages of managing entertainers as a female GM? Does it help when recruiting entertainers?
FINCK: I believe my greatest strength as a GM is that I can share the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to work in every position in the club, including as an entertainer. So I’m able to bring a different perspective when I’m speaking to them.
ED: Can being a female GM help or hinder you when dealing with male customers who may get out of line?
FINCK: I believe the majority of the time that it can be an advantage for de-escalation. But I’m also incredibly fortunate to have received lots of training over the years and to have the opportunity to work with some truly amazing people from whom I’ve learned a lot.
ED: What does a typical workweek look like for you?
FINCK: I wear lots of hats throughout the day, and it also depends on the specific needs for that day or week. I handle many emails and phone calls and assist managers with any questions or anything that could arise throughout the day. I always keep my foot on the gas, business-wise, while looking at the clubs’ reporting to ensure that we’re in compliance with all areas.
“I believe my greatest strength as a GM is that I can share the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to work in every position in the club, including as an entertainer. So I’m able to bring a different perspective when I’m speaking to them.”
– Winter Finck
ED: Looking at Seattle and the industry in general, are there any changes you see in the club market in Seattle that have provided specific challenges to the way clubs do business there?
FINCK: I think the changes are all evolutionary, some on a larger scale than others. They can provide some hurdles and some challenges. But at the end of the day, we always figure it out and pivot, and I think that evolution is how we remain relevant. Staying up to date with all the laws and regulations to ensure compliance is a huge factor.
ED: What’s the best part of your job, and what’s the most challenging part?
FINCK: The most rewarding part is working with management and training. Being in the clubs and working with everyone is my favorite part of the job. The most challenging part is ensuring compliance.
ED: You worked with Consolidated founder Roger Forbes for a long time. What’s a quality or skill you acquired or refined working with Roger that has helped you become better at overseeing operations?
FINCK: Roger taught me to always adhere to the fundamentals. He taught me that the manager always sets the tone. Always pay attention to the essential aspects of the environment — how the property looks, the lighting levels, and the club energy — and keep the entertainment going continuously. Every day is an opportunity to do a better job than you did the previous day.
ED: If you had other clubs’ GMs and operations people, both male and female, in a room and you could share some advice, what would you tell them?
FINCK: I would say, ‘Remember that it’s all about the show, that we’re an entertainment venue.’ I know it sounds obvious, but it’s important to acknowledge all of our obstacles. The goal of running that finely oiled machine requires a consideration on a daily basis of what it takes to achieve and maintain that balance. You must find consistency in yourself and your leadership and always surround yourself with the best.
Larry Kaplan has for 22 years been the Legal Correspondent for ED Publications. In addition, Mr. Kaplan is a business broker in the sale and purchase of adult nightclubs and adult retail stores and the Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association. Contact Larry Kaplan: at 313-815-3311 or email email@example.com.