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Spascape in Scituate, Plymouth close due to owner’s health

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 19, 2012 03:53 PM

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Spascape owner Deb Larson has closed the doors to both her Scituate and Plymouth businesses after struggling to keep up with the demand amid health problems.

The business owner has operated the small Scituate spa, located in the Mill Wharf Plaza, since August 2007, and ran the second Plymouth location since October 2010.

Yet after her house burnt down in November 2010, and after being diagnosed with Lymphoma last year, managing both locations just became too difficult, she said.

“It was just too much for me to do, trying to get well, trying to get my family a place to live, trying to get all new furniture and all that, and a business that requires you to be there 24/7,” Larson said in a phone interview. “With all of the expenses, between the fire and illness … I couldn’t subsidize the spas with my own money. The overhead was high, paying the staff and insurance, and I had to add more staff because I wasn’t there as much… I had to make the decision.”

The Plymouth location was closed in July, followed shortly thereafter by the shuttering of the Scituate spa in October.

The decision to close the stores before the holiday season was an important one, Larson said, as she didn’t want people to buy gift certificates and feel they hadn’t gotten their money’s worth out of what they had paid for.

“It was a carefully laid out plan to be sure the clients were taken care of. I didn’t want them to lose out on anything,” Larson said.

As for clients who have outstanding gift certificates they want to use, Larson arranged for Earthtones Salon in Cohasset and Duxbury, as well as Dolce Med Spa and Boutique in Hanover, to accept the full value of gift certificates bought at Spascape.

While closing the business was difficult, Larson said it was the only option.

Though she considered selling the business, she said that it would be too expensive for anyone to buy.

“Even if I would had given it to someone, money would have had to come out of their pockets to keep it going, because that’s how I kept it going…and we used quality products. The margin for profit, as far as you start, is only 20 percent anyway. If you’re in a bad economy and trying to keep your prices low but want to give the best services as possible, we were barely breaking even,” Larson said.

Although she says the business would have become markedly more profitable in another five or so years, Larson said the future is just so uncertain that she couldn’t wait that long.

“Having a diagnosis of lymphoma, you don’t know. You don’t know what radiation will do to you. You don’t know. And I’m sick every day; I just can’t seem to fight anything off. And I don’t have the passion I once had. It was like my baby, I loved it, and I couldn’t do it anymore,” Larson said.

Larson said the businesses had had marked success when they were opening, including four Best of Boston awards in the five years they were open.

And despite the unfortunate events that had transpired in the last several years, Larson said the community support had been wonderful.

“There are a lot of really nice people out there, and I happen to know most of them,” Larson said.

Now that the business had been closed a month, Larson said she was already starting to feel better, learning how to spend the time to take care of herself, and not missing any doctors appointments due to 12-hour workdays.

“You do what you do because you believe in it. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t,” Larson said. “It was a good run while it was open. People enjoyed it, I enjoyed running it, but now my main job is to make sure I take care of myself.”

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