Customers said they spent hundreds of dollars at a well-known spa only to have the owner abruptly sell the business. Now the new owner said trying to honor old gift cards is sinking her business.
The owners of Arabella's Spa on the Silas Deane Highway in Rocky Hill said they legally do not have to accept gift certificates or pre-paid packages from when the business was called Beyond Visual.
Jennifer Sala said she's been a customer of the spa since she was a teen. She said through the years it's gone through several transformations, names and owners. It's gone from Beaux Visage to Beyond Visual and most recently, Arabella's.
"The staff, some of them have been there for 20 years," she said.
Last year, when it was Beyond Visual, Sala said she and her friends pooled money and spent $300 on several facial treatments to be used down the road. However, when she tried to book an appointment this week at Arabella's, she was denied.
"They said they had no affiliation with the old company and I was out my package money," Sala said.
Julia Trigila, Arabella's owner, was the person that spoke to Sala over the phone. She said she's been fielding non-stop calls because the previous owner, Lindsey Tenore, did not tell anyone she was selling her Beyond Visual business.
"I'm going to change it up and make it Julia's spa," Trigila said.
Even though the space is the same, the name isn't. Trigila, a new business owner, said she wanted to take advantage of the well-known location. However, she insists that when she signed her contract, she did not take on any of its liabilities.
"Any liabilities, such as Groupons, credits, gift cards, any liens, taxes," explained Trigila.
She could not provide Eyewitness News with a copy of that contract.
For the first few months, she said she tried her best to honor the old clients, hoping to keep them.
"I'm out of a lot of money and I'm really scared I'm going to go out of business because I'm giving out a lot of free services," Trigila said.
Trigila said many of the pre-paid packages were sold by Tenore's business even though she had plans to sell her spa.
"The amount that people paid to her is definitely over $12,000," she said.
What's more, Trigila said she's losing $70,000 because she was honoring those pre-paid packages and gift certificates for the last two months.
"I had to pay the employees out of my own pocket and I wasn't taking in anything," she said.
After selling the spa to Trigila, Tenore was kept on as an employee. Recently, however, Trigila said Tenore stopped showing up for work.
Eyewitness News tried to contact Tenore but the phone number for her New Britain home was no longer in service.
Now Trigila said she is preparing to have her next meeting with Tenore in Court. Until then, hundreds of former customers like Sala will hang in the balance.
"It makes me really nervous when I get a gift certificate for any occasion," Sala said. "I feel like I need to use it right away because tomorrow, that business may not be there."
In the meantime, Trigila said she was standing firm. She said she will not be booking services paid for under the old spa.
She's asking customers to have some patience as the case gets sorted out.
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