The Tranquil Escape Day Spa on Crescent Street closed abruptly in December. Sharon Stout, the spa's owner, said she is renovating a new space, and plans to open by the end of the summer. She hopes Brockton will give her another chance.
BROCKTON — When a Brockton day spa closed suddenly in December, the hundreds of people with gift cards were worried. Some felt cheated. Forty-five people have filed consumer complaints with the state attorney general's office.
Sharon Stout, the spa's owner, told The Enterprise on Thursday she has been working with the attorney general's office "since day one" to show them that she did intend to reopen and honor those gift cards. Stout said she had refunded some $5,000 worth of gift cards she sold since she bought the spa, and pledged to honor the more than $500,000 in gift cards still outstanding when she reopens.
In December, Stout said the business was staggering under the weight of about $539,000 in gift cards. She had purchased the debt, along with the Crescent Street day spa business, in July 2018.
Between July and December 2018, Stout said, she had redeemed more than $100,000 worth of gift cards. Redeeming so many gift cards meant that only a small proportion of the spa's clients were paying Stout. There was little money coming into the business, even as Stout had to pay for staff, supplies for spa treatments and building costs. She was losing money too fast, she said.
The spa was "booked solid" with appointment to be paid for with gift cards, Stout said in December. To get her head above water, Stout said she would need a bigger space, with room to take on more clients each day. After a gift card sale in late November, Stout closed the spa in December.
"This is the only way to keep the spa going," Stout wrote in an email to her clients announcing the closing.
Customers who had bought hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards worried they would never receive the massages, manicures and facials they thought they were paying for. Since December, 45 people filed complaints with the attorney general's office.
In response to a complaint, one customer received a letter from the attorney general's office. The letter, dated May 3, said the attorney general had received information that Stout had purchased property and would be renovating it – and opening the spa in June.
Other worried customers were able to get refunds for their gift cards. Stout said she refunded the gift cards she had sold since July 2018, and other customers got their credit card companies to reverse the charge.
Customers searching for answers online found Facebook posts about another spa Stout owned in Watertown that seemed to have also closed and left gift card holders wondering if they would be able to redeem the cards. Stout told The Enteprise in December that she had to close a Watertown spa she owned after the owner of a building she was trying to buy abruptly backed out of the sale.
On Thursday, Stout said she had been frazzled during that conversation: the Watertown spa had reopened in a new building and she had honored about $150,000 in gift cards she had sold from the old location.
Stout had hoped to reopen the Brockton spa earlier this year, but said she was now hoping to finish renovating a new space in mid-July and reopen in August. Stout had been eyeing the former Ailano School of Cosmetology building on West Street, near Brockton High School. That location did not work out, Stout said, but she is renovating another property in the area.
She was reluctant to say where the new location was, she said, because she is still getting angry calls from customers.
The new location is larger, Stout said, with more bathrooms and shower areas, and space to take on more customers. In the last week, five advertisements for jobs at the Tranquil Escape spa have been posted online.
When the new location opens, Stout said, she will honor old gift cards, all $539,000 of them. She hopes Brockton will give her another chance, in spite of the abrupt, months-long closure of the spa.
"While I understand everyone’s concerns, I think they will be happy at seeing the results," Stout said. "I've done what I said I would do."
Staff writer Josie Albertson-Grove can be reached at email@example.com or 508-427-4031.