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Last Update: Sunday February 25, 2018

Key Idea: Reinvent Yourself

Richard Stanley and his partner Joe Wasserman tried to quit. They came separately to Great Barrington to relax, retire and, perhaps, fiddle around real estate and whatever caught their fancy. They met while attending a town meeting, and as entrepreneurs will do, they talked about their dreams for improving Great Barrington's historic business district.

Key Question:

A: 

These two men tried to retire!  They started this business because they could not help themselves.  They saw an opportunity.  Another way of saying that is they saw a solution to a problem and they got excited to deliver this solution to their adopted hometown.  They threw their energy into making the theater succeed and eventually became town heroes.

The type of business you start should excite you when you think about it.  It should be so exciting that you can't wait to get to work in the morning.

Questions for this clip: 1 | 2

Think about it

Have you already retired? Do you want to retire? Would you consider retiring from what you are doing now to start a whole new venture? How would you prepare to succeed in a new field?

Clip from: Triplex Movie Theater

Great Barrington, Massachusetts: We go into the downtown of this village, just on the fringe of the pulsing melodies of the Tanglewood Music Festival, the summer home of the Boston Symphony (just north in Lenox). Today, the entire area is an arts colony. Not too long ago Great Barrington was a neglected old mill town. Today, it is a picture postcard of the Berkshires -- the town is in a renaissance sparked in part by two men who thought they were going to retire.

Owners Richard Stanley and Joe Wasserman are heroes because they jumped in to solve a problem. They didn't ask, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" They became the somebody and they caught the imagination of the town.

They built Triplex Cinema on the site of a former lumberyard and today it is the hub of nightlife for the town.   It opened in November of 1995 with one film and today it not only offers movies, it is a gathering place for live events and dining in the lobby café.

Go to the key ideas for this episode...
A homepage about not retiring ...
A homepage about niches...

Triplex Cinema

Richard Stanley, President

70 Railroad Street
Great Barrington, MA 01230
413.528.8885

Visit our web site: http://thetriplex.com/

Office: 413.528.8885

Business Classification:
Entertainment, Movies

Year Founded: 1995

Reinvent Yourself

HATTIE: Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant. This is the place to be if you want to meet some of the most fascinating people in this country. We call the owners of businesses the new American heroes. Every day they are creating wealth and work.

Richard Stanley and Joe Wasserman are heroes because they jumped in to solve a problem. They didn't say, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" They became the somebodies. For the next half-hour, they'll also be our teachers. Step into our Master Class to learn how one business brought new life to an old town.

(Voiceover) The town of Great Barrington, set in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts, had seen better days.

JOE WASSERMAN: There was a period when downtown had a lot of vacancies and it was very, very dead.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Businessmen like Richard Stanley and Joe Wasserman envisioned improvement. And now everyone is enjoying what they've built.

Unidentified Woman #1: One adult and two children for "Armageddon."

RICHARD STANLEY: This property here had been abandoned for a number of years and there was a lot of rotting and falling apart and the roof was peeling back.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) The two combined 30 years each of business experience to build their movie theater.

Ms. ONCHA LIN: Basically, what we do is we run it through and we just make sure that there are no mistakes. If there are, we cut the film and then we re-piece it so it's perfect.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Oncha Lin threads up the next movie. I guess I just assumed it comes from Hollywood perfect.

ONCHA: That's exactly what I thought in the beginning and the process does take quite a long time.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) The Triplex opened November 11th, 1995. Richard spent most of his career in the hair salon business, which he ultimately built into a successful chain. After selling out, he moved to Great Barrington.

HATTIE: Were you thinking that you're gonna chill out and relax and...

RICHARD: Oh, absolutely. When I came up here, the first year I played golf and had a great time but towards the end started getting antsy and I had been investigating owning real estate. My uncle was a developer. And that always sort of interested me. I never knew quite how to do it or how to get started. Even while I was in New York--and I lived in areas where there were brownstones, and brownstones being renovated. And that had always been my fantasy. I wanted to be in the real estate business. So I did come up here and dabble in it. And it was the '80s and it was a pretty go-go time here. And I just sat around and watched people buy real estate because it didn't feel right to me, having gone through business school, actually, a few years before I had come up here. To me it was just a bunch of numbers. If the numbers didn't add up, don't do it. In real estate...

HATTIE: And you weren't getting the right numbers when you were adding?

RICHARD: No. And real estate became the bigger fool theory up here and I suspect nationwide--meaning the way you're going to make money is not because there's an economic return on owning this asset; it's because you're gonna convince somebody that it's gonna go up even more after they get it. And I didn't buy anything. I finally bought my first significant building, which is adjacent to where we are now, and it was huge building that was pretty well run down. And I could envision what it could look like. All of these fronts were all aluminum. None of them looked like what they look like now.

HATTIE: So you just peeled off the facades?

RICHARD: The facades and discovered all kinds of interesting things underneath it. When I went inside and we started taking the paneling off the wall, I discovered a couple of more gorgeous arches in there. And that building really is what hooked me. Unfortunately, the back was a seedy parking area with a huge burned-out building and tried to think about what could we do with this?

This is Railroad Street we're about to walk up, and my peers that grew up in this area, their parents would never let them even walk on Railroad Street. It used to be bars and billiard parlors.

JOE: Now they won't even permit a billiard parlor.

RICHARD: That's right. That's exactly right.

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