Business Monday: Less skin care in Aspen’s retail game?
The Hyman Mall might be getting a bit quieter.
The space at Luxe Skin Spa — one of three downtown retailers that have generated complaints about its employees’ sales tactics, including verbal solicitations from their store doorways — is now being advertised for lease through Aspen broker Karen Setterfield.
“(The owners of Luxe) just decided they don’t need three stores,” Setterfield said Friday. “I don’t know why they decided it.”
California resident Gal Batzri, whose Aspen Retail company owns Luxe and two similarly natured ski-care shops downtown, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Yet previously he said Luxe and its downtown affiliates — one is on East Cooper Avenue, the other also in the Hyman mall — had been unfairly portrayed by some customers and in media reports.
Last year the store faced four lawsuits alleging it used deceptive sales tactics and overcharged customers. The suits all were dismissed from Pitkin County courts, including two in which the defendants were reimbursed for their purchases.
In one case, a plaintiff agreed to dismiss the lawsuit when video evidence surfaced that exonerated store employees of allegations they drugged customers.
The city also has fielded complaints about the stores’ employees offering free lotion samples to mall passersby.
The city prohibits retailers from pitching products or having sales conversation in its right of ways, including those on the downtown sidewalks and malls. Restaurants are exempt from the law as long as they have an agreement with the city.
The stores, however, had the First Amendment on their side thanks to the outcome of a federal suit their ownership filed against the city in October 2016.
That suit said the city’s order for the shops — which at the time had different names than they do now — to stop conducting sales and a product-sampling activities in the mall was unconstitutional because it infringed on store workers’ free speech rights.
The suit resulted in an agreement by which the store employers could make pitches to passersby and distribute samples — but only from within store property and not on the mall.
The settlement agreement states, “Solicitation may consist of oral and written communications as well as the distribution of product samples, leaflets, cards and brochures. While engaged in such solicitations, plaintiffs, and their employees, contractors and agents, shall remain at the front doorway to their business and shall not go beyond the threshold of that doorway.”
Setterfield said the Luxe space is about 1,000 square feet of retail space. Luxe, which currently is closed, has a lease through the master sub-landlord, she said. The Woods family owns the 430 E. Hyman Ave. building.
“We’re looking for somebody long-term that can start as soon as possible,” she said.
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