Citing theft, gym owner shuts down

Citing theft, gym owner shuts down

There are 49 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Sep 5, 2007, titled Citing theft, gym owner shuts down. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

Cheetah Gym members who showed up to work out Wednesday were met with a confusing and unwelcome surprise: a locked door, a dark building and a handwritten sign that said "Closed." The demise of the small chain ...

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Andersonville Guy

Shorewood, IL

#1 Sep 6, 2007
Something smells horribly wrong with David's story.
Another Andersonville Guy

Chicago, IL

#2 Sep 6, 2007
I find the comment "thoe only one ripped off was him" from the owner troublesome. What about the many, many memebers who have now had to try to reclaim September membership fees, or the memeber who paid in advance for personal taining or other services? Are they not, also, being slighted? While I feel for the owner in some regard - losing a business this way must be hard - I also note that having something of this magnitude go completely unnoticed makes me wonder just how good a businessperson he was/is. Not to excuse the dishonest employees, but I would imagine "rampant" theft and graft would be noticed with any sort of diligent management procedures...
CheetAndersonvil le Girl

United States

#3 Sep 6, 2007
My thoughts exactly, Andersonville Guys!
Rob from Edgewater

Chicago, IL

#4 Sep 6, 2007
The poorly-written, harsh letter posted on the door and his comments stating "the only one ripped off was him" shows very bad business sense, as well as self-centeredness. David verbally expressed little concern for members who paid (possibly a lot) for services not received, and the honest employees who may not be able to pay rent now. He made bad business decisions to not monitor his business interests, and I'm supposed to think he's the victim?? Absolutely not.
Erin

Chicago, IL

#5 Sep 6, 2007
This is so frustrating! I only joined about two months ago, and paid at least $200 to register. I feel pretty ripped off, personally. I hope they give members more information, and don't just leave us in the dark.
Skeptic

Chicago, IL

#6 Sep 6, 2007
I can't wait until we find out the real story here. Whilshire's letter seems to be a paranoid rant with no specifics. The business runs on the automatic deposits of the members each month. If employees weren't stealing this money as he claims then why is the business in trouble? I'll bet we find there's much more to this story.
krebs in andersonville

United States

#7 Sep 6, 2007
Unless he found out about his employees allegedly cheating him in the last six days, I find it just a little too convenient that he decided to shut down hours after monthly dues had been collected. Hmm.
Burned

Chicago, IL

#8 Sep 6, 2007
Whilshire has a pattern of erratic behavior. Several years ago he started selling memberships to a club at 3232 Halsted when he didn't have a lease yet. When the deal fell through, he sent an odd letter to members asking to help pressure the building owners to give him a lease. A couple years ago he started a strange fight with the bar next door to Cheetah. He always claims to be the "victim"
cat

Clovis, NM

#9 Sep 6, 2007
This place made a million dollars and the employees stole it all?? That's hard to believe. There is something fishy here. The employees would all be driving BMWs.
Jerome Jackson

Chicago, IL

#10 Sep 6, 2007
David Barton and Equinox are both better in terms of being true gyms focused on working out. Skip Equinox if you don't want the attitudes and frilly extras, skip DBG if you're over 40 years old.
Rob from Edgewater

Chicago, IL

#11 Sep 6, 2007
Guess it can be called Cheaters Gym for multiple reasons now!
anon

Washington, DC

#12 Sep 6, 2007
Absolutely ridiculous. Love how the guy wants everyone to feel sorry for him. If you're going to own a business, you haev to be smart enough to run it. People are always looking to get over on you. I don't feel bad for him at all. I was a member, and I know he had no problem cashing my dues for September. Its the principle of what is being said here, and I think something else here is definitely afoot. Basically, I think this is a fresh load. And the members, almost all good people, got absolutely jipped here. What a shame.
Bucktown bitter

Round Lake, IL

#13 Sep 6, 2007
I suspected something was up a few weeks ago when suddenly there was an entirely new staff in Bucktown. They were all fairly clueless, some not even nice.

Who's following the money on this? Do businesses carry insurance for "thievery" like this?
Angry Bucktowner

Chicago, IL

#14 Sep 6, 2007
I think it's horrifying that David would say that his employees and trainers have stolen from him. His story does not even make sense. Additionally, how would employees skim monthly dues? This guy is nuts, and I think it's pathetic that this article creates any empathy towards him. If anyone has stolen, it's David. Thanks for shutting down with no notice a day after Dues were charged. As a member of the gym, and an active participant in classes and personal training, the trainer and instructors I have worked with have been nothing but professional. There is no way there is truth to David's story. Come on.
Hmmm

Chicago, IL

#16 Sep 6, 2007
The fact that he says "the only one ripped-off was him" says it all. Shutting your doors without telling your employees or clients...not even a "mass email"--nothing, shows a severe lack of business sense and character. More to the point, his desperate actions, paranoia, and attempts to deflect responsibility for the situation when he is the sole owner of the clubs, points to fraud on his part. This guy is trying to cover-up his own failings by accusing others of serious crimes. I REALLY want to see this guy forced to take responsibility for this. What a nightmare!
Former Cheatah Member

United States

#17 Sep 6, 2007
I've been a member for several years and David has always come across like a big crybaby--eg. the complaint with Farrugut Tavern. He threw all sorts of wonderful people under a bus and if he's so honorable, why didn't he close shop before the direct debit withdrawal last week? I will be seeking recompensation on principle alone.

Does anyone have a decent recommendation for a gym in the Anderson/Uptown neighborhood, btw?
Brian Harrington

United States

#19 Sep 6, 2007
Remember that all of the activity Cheetah Gym has stated to have occurred is just accusations.
I would encourage all members of Cheetah to call their banks and credit card companies to dispute the taking of the September dues and let them get the money back. If not, Cheetah may file for bankruptcy and you will never see another dime.
All of you other gyms out there: Invest in Andersonville-take over the lease of the gym and run it with respect for the members, employees and neighbors.

Brian Harrington-Andersonville
Kellsboro Jack

United States

#20 Sep 6, 2007
If everything in the business was pledged as suggested, I would assume his creditors would be livid that a more rational alternative could not have been found.

Now he's significantly damaged the business name and what little cash flow he complained about will further be reduced. Anyone using credit cards for deposits and membership fees will request Visa/Amex/Master Card to stop payment and attempt to get back money.

If he suspected fraud he should've hired a forensic accountant to pinpoint the issue(s) while keeping the doors open. Or better yet been more involved and weed out those employees and instructors selectively when he noticed irregularities. Did this guy completely lack a business manager to measure client appointments booked with revenue taken in?

I wouldn't back the guy for another venture to save my life with a stunt like this.
krebs in andersonville

United States

#22 Sep 6, 2007
Former Cheatah Member wrote:
I've been a member for several years and David has always come across like a big crybaby--eg. the complaint with Farrugut Tavern. He threw all sorts of wonderful people under a bus and if he's so honorable, why didn't he close shop before the direct debit withdrawal last week? I will be seeking recompensation on principle alone.
Does anyone have a decent recommendation for a gym in the Anderson/Uptown neighborhood, btw?
I'm going to Galter at Foster and California tonight. I doubt they will be closing anytime soon.
David Stalker

Oak Park, IL

#23 Sep 6, 2007
Drop in on him at his home on Newgard, assuming he isn't on a Caribbean vacation...

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