MARLTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A popular spa and salon chain has abruptly closed its doors, leaving customers with hundreds, even thousands of dollars worth of gift cards.
The Toppers Spa in Marlton, New Jersey, and in Dover, Delaware closed on April 28, just three days after sending customers email promotions to buy gift cards.
Now, customers are irate.
"We were like loyal customers," said Lindsey Wells from Cherry Hill. "My mom treated herself to $500 worth of gift cards."
"I also had bought a gift card," she added.
She says she bought the gift cards on April 22.
Toppers also sent her an email on April 25 to buy more, then closed three days later.
"We could not spend any of the gift cards, the website was gone," Wells said.
Wells told Action News that she, her aunt, and her sister had appointments scheduled for the day after the spa closed. On the day it shut down, her sister did get a call that those appointments could be honored, but with a catch.
"You can only pay cash. And she said, 'Well, we have gift cards.' And they said, 'Yeah, we can't do anything about the gift cards,'" she recalled.
On Facebook, other Toppers customers have posted they have gift cards worth $600, $800, and even $2,000.
"It makes me feel like you can't trust any company," Wells said. "Someone knew that they were closing six days before they closed. Someone knew. The owners knew, someone, and yet they accepted our money."
Wells has now filed a dispute with her credit card company.
"Hopefully, I get that money back. But I'm not sure," she said. "We paid for something we never got the service for, to me, it's stealing."
In its heyday, Topper's had five locations. But the company's owner, Richard Keaveney, who founded the chain in 1981, said by phone on Wednesday the industry changed.
Consumers no longer wanted the day spa experience, he said.
There was also a shortage of nail technicians, and he says both massage therapists and hairdressers preferred to work independently instead of as employees.
He says on top of those challenges, "COVID put the knife in our back," forcing the Newtown, Bucks County, location to close in 2020.
Then the Rittenhouse location closed in 2021, Devon closed in 2022, and then just weeks ago the spas in Dover and Marlton closed their doors, informing its employees the night before it shut down.
Topper's owner said the situation was exacerbated by the CEO and president suffering a medical condition and being hospitalized. He said he is still recovering, but that they will meet with the company's attorney and accountant this Friday to figure out the next steps.
That includes a possible bankruptcy filing and issues with gift cards, officials say.
Toppers Spa Full Statement:
"It is with deep regret that we announce the closing of Toppers Spa Salons, effective immediately.
This is a very challenging time for me, our employees, and all of our guests. This is especially difficult for me as I began this Philadelphia institution in 1981. 40+ years ago. We are heartbroken and did everything at all possible to avoid this closure. Absolutely down to the wire. We have closed 3 locations since the rise of COVID-19. Each closing another knife in the heart. We exhausted every option at our disposal to navigate the extremely difficult struggle including, but not limited to, external financing, additional bank loans, and employee cash loans. It wasn't until Thursday, April 27th that I realized there was nothing more to be done. The economic challenges of the past couple of years have become overwhelming and impossible to face as a small business. The abrupt notice is simply due to our resolve to not give in. We wanted nothing more to make it work.
I understand that there are many unhappy people. Employees (including all corporate staff who were also laid off) and guests. I am doing everything in my power to see that everyone is addressed to the best of my ability.
The company has retained a most competent accounting and legal team to help facilitate the closure and address gift card balances. We anticipate that this team will reach out in the near future.
Thank you for your patience, support, and understanding."