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As coronavirus fears mounted in March, Europa Colour Salon Spa & Barbershop assured clients that staff members were taking all the necessary precautions.
Its rooms, styling chairs, nail stations and shampoo bowls were being thoroughly sanitized. By March 16, the salon — like a lot of other local businesses — advertised gift cards as an option, offering a 10% discount on all purchased.
Two days later, the longtime Old Town salon temporarily closed, with plans to reopen April 30. On April 24, they announced in a Facebook post that Europa Colour Salon Spa & Barbershop was closed for good.
After 22 years in business, its windows at 123 N. College Ave. were suddenly papered over — leaving a “for lease” sign dangling and several clients asking about the fate of their Europa gift cards, some of which were worth hundreds of dollars.
The salon and spa was known for an annual one-day anniversary sale in early November, when clients could purchase gift cards at a 20% discount. Some clients, including Jan Masterson, used the sale as a way to stock up on discounted services.
For the past six or seven years, Masterson said she would buy $600 worth of gift cards for $480 each year, essentially prepaying for her monthly pedicures at the spa.
Masterson said she also signed up for Europa’s spa membership, paid for with a monthly fee.
In March, Masterson said she called and left three messages for Europa to see if the spa would stop charging for the monthly spa membership if it was forced to temporarily close under state orders.
“They never returned my phone calls,” she said.
Leslie Reeves, a Laporte resident who was once a regular at Europa, was hanging onto a spa gift card when she heard news of its closure.
After treating herself to regular haircuts at Europa for years, Reeves said becoming a single mother almost six years ago significantly tightened her budget. She hadn’t been back to Europa but was planning on using a gift card she received for Christmas — valued at $114 — for a facial this spring.
“It’s something I would never splurge on myself, so it was quite the treat, and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day,” Reeves said.
Since learning of Europa’s closure, Reeves said she’s called the salon, as has the person who gave her the gift certificate.
When neither of them heard back, Reeves said she went to the salon and spa’s Facebook page and read several comments from clients asking what the fate of their unused gift cards would be. Europa had not responded to any of the comments as of 5 p.m. Friday.
A Facebook message and email from the Coloradoan also went unanswered by the salon and spa as of Friday. Its voicemail box was full and not accepting messages.
“I realized that I wasn’t the only one. Then it was even more appalling to see that they were selling gift cards (at a discount) in March,” Reeves said, referring to Europa’s March 16 Facebook post offering 10% off its gift cards.
“That $114 is a grocery run for me to be able to provide for my two kids,” Reeves said. “For me, that’s a lot of money.”
Reeves, who runs a small photo booth rental company, said her business was decimated in three weeks as coronavirus canceled all of the events and weddings she had booked.
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While she usually holds onto nonrefundable deposits, Reeves said she gave her customers full refunds because of the unusual circumstances created by the global pandemic.
“Ethically, you have to be loyal to your customers,” she explained.
Gift cards can usually be valid for years, but when the store or salon that issues them goes out of business, the gift cards typically lose their value, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB encourages shoppers to look into a retailer’s financial condition before purchasing a gift card from them. As of August 2019, Europa Colour Salon Spa & Barbershop was in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
The BBB suggests people purchase gift cards with a credit card so your credit card company can recover any money lost if a business closes. It also encourages buyers to use gift cards as quickly as possible.
Masterson said she has not attempted to reach the salon about her gift card, which had three-quarters of its remaining funds on it after Masterson used it for just three of the dozen pedicures she had planned.
Now she’s in a wait-and-see mode, hoping to hear back on any potential refund.
“You know, Beth ran a great business and I appreciated what she did,” Masterson said, referring to Europa’s owner, Beth Stephens. “She just needs to honor people’s gift cards.”
Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a subscription to the Coloradoan today.
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