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Originally published: 2012-12-10 10:04:43
Last modified: 2012-12-10 10:04:43

Sanctuary day spa closes suddenly

The Sanctuary day spa in Boone closed abruptly Wednesday, leaving 12 employees out of work just before the holidays.

Several telephone numbers associated with owners Randy and Hugh Schindler were no longer active Friday, and many details about the sudden closure are still unclear.

Ashli Campbell, who has worked as a receptionist at the spa for about four and a half months, said she was shocked Wednesday when she arrived at the shop on Greenway Road and learned the spa was closing that very day.

“We knew that Randy was looking to sell, but we were all under the impression that we were going to be under new ownership,” Campbell said. “None of us had any idea that we were going to come in on Wednesday to no job, that she was going to shut down entirely.”

Campbell said the closure followed a period of speculation about the spa’s fate, with many staff being led to believe the spa was going to be sold to an employee or to another local buyer and remain operational.

Gerald Swindell, a consultant with the Employment Security Commission in Boone, said Friday that he was not yet aware of any former Sanctuary employees filing for unemployment benefits.

Chris Cornett, owner of Heavenly Touch Massage in Boone, said he purchased the spa’s assets in anticipation of opening another spa location in the near future. Cornett removed the equipment from the spa Thursday to a storage facility but said it was not his plan to reopen The Sanctuary nor to open a new spa in that location.

Cornett said he also retained the client list but was disappointed to find that few emails were included; Cornett said his business primarily pitches its services by email.

Cornett said he also has hired two or three of the former employees and agreed to distribute the former Sanctuary employees’ paychecks this week.

The closure ends a tumultuous year for The Sanctuary, which reopened at its current location in April.

Court records show the Schindlers and their company, RSVS Holdings, have been involved in a lawsuit with former owners Ralph and Debra Grosswald of Enlightened Spa Services since around the time they purchased the spa in August 2011.

The buyers alleged that they were not told before the sale about a large amount of unredeemed gift certificates that they believed they would be responsible for honoring. They also claimed that Debra Grosswald was in violation of a non-compete clause that was part of the sale.

Ralph Grosswald denied those claims and counterclaimed that the buyers had made defamatory statements about him being a swindler. The case was dismissed in October.

Randy Schindler’s attorney, David Turlington, also could not be reached Friday afternoon.

Campbell said the owners’ personal problems also tended to affect the business.

She added the staff was experiencing mixed emotions about the upheaval.

“Everyone’s just a little sad now, because they were a great team,” she said.