Old Spa 151 building on Spanish Street turning over new leaf

Monday, April 14, 2008

The new owner of the building at 151 S. Spanish St. that formerly housed Spa 151 on the River knows the old home has a stigma.

But Kristina Schumer -- Tina to her friends -- also thinks the place "is a wonderful building" that will thrive when it is reborn as the eDen Salon & Boutique, an Aveda concept store specializing in beauty treatments from the well-known organic cosmetics supplier.

Schumer opened eDen Salon in the Crossroads at 97 Independence St. in May 2007. She was planning to expand at her current location when the 151 S. Spanish St. location went on the market. "I was just getting bids for the plumbing and stuff when I realized that is kind of sitting there ready to go," Schumer said.

As she's been working to prepare for a May 1 opening, Schumer said she's been constantly interrupted by people wanting to know what the activity is about.

The "stigma" on the building is the acrimonius way Spa 151 closed in January. A messy divorce case between the owners, Ashli Rowland and Scott Rowland, forced it to close. The sudden demise left employees grumbling that they had not been paid and irate customers holding apparently worthless gift cards and certificates.

Ashli Rowland promised in early February to refund the outstanding gift cards and certificates -- she estimated $50,000 worth were outstanding -- but she has been unavailable since that interview. I reached Scott Rowland on Friday, but he hung up as soon as I identified myself.

And while the Rowlands are able to avoid this humble correspondent, they aren't escaping the scrutiny of the Missouri Attorney General's office. As of Friday, 330 people had filed complaints about the Rowlands and their business practices.

Investigators are "still negotiating with the parties and hope to have a resolution soon that will benefit Spa 151 members," said John Fougere, press secretary to Attorney General Jay Nixon. "We are committed to making sure the consumers are made whole."

Meanwhile, the divorce is moving forward, with a trial setting scheduled for June 10 before Judge Benjamin Lewis.

The looming divorce and investigation by the Missouri Attorney General aren't the only legal issues dogging the Rowlands. They were partners in a statewide chain of Check Please locations before last October, and in February they were sued by The Great Eight LLC, a land company owned by the Buchheit family, for failure to pay rent on a Perryville, Mo., building leased by Check Please. Eric Bohl, attorney for the the Great Eight LLC, said the lawsuit alleges that the Rowlands stopped paying rent after closing the Check Please branch.

As for Schumer, a mother of two who was a partner in Callingers, a salon on Kingshighway, she wants everyone to know she has never had any business connections with the Rowlands. She's as anxious as anyone for the refund issue to be resolved.

As for the location, it's just what she wanted. "It is a wonderful building," she said.

n Missourians versus Mexicans: Was House Speaker Rod Jetton factually correct when he disparaged the work habits of Missourians, calling them lazy and declaring he'd gladly trade some for "hard-working Mexicans?" Dr. Bruce Domazlicky of Southeast Missouri State University decided to find out.

Domazlicky directs the Center for Economic & Business Research, and last Friday he presented a short study, complete with statistical regression analysis, to determine if the people of Southeast Missouri are less likely to have a job than Hispanic Missourians.

For the record, Jetton, R-Marble Hill, made his remarks at a Republican gathering in Springfield in early February and expanded on the statement in a news conference Feb. 21, when he singled out the citizens of Wayne County, which is part of his legislative district. He has since apologized to the people of Wayne County, but reasserted that too many Missourians are content to take a government check rather than get a job.

In short, Domazlicky learned that Southeast Missourians compare well with the rest of the state in participation in the labor force. The region has higher numbers of people older than 65 and people with disabilities. When those facts are factored in, there is little difference. And people in the region compare favorably to Hispanics as well, he said. "What I found is that [Hispanics[']] willingness to work is just a little bit higher."

The results are pretty much what he expected to find, Domazlicky said. "It was just a simple little study I did for fun," he said.

The report is also part of the center's quarterly report, Southeast Missouri Business Indicators. In that report, Domazlicky notes the diminished national economic growth and said our region will feel the effect. Unemployment will grow, perhaps by a half-percent or more to about 6 percent, in the 24-county area he studies.

And he expects retail sales to slump, slowing to a growth rate of about 1 to 2 percent compared to the 4 percent of recent years.

"We will be lucky to tease out any kind of growth," he said.

n Park land, not development: I was alerted by some wide-awake readers that I needed to find out what was happening where land is being cleared near Arena Park in Cape Girardeau. No, there's no new development going in at that corner of Kiwannis Drive and Optimist Drive on the east side of the park or at Rodney Street on the west side, said Pete Poe, a member of the SEMO District Fair board.

The board recently purchased property in both locations and the dirt work is to take out the homes and the trees that do not fit a park setting, Poe said.

"We had the opportunity to add to the parks system in Cape, to expand Arena Park to the east a little bit, and we took that opportunity to do so," he said.

Now to the news release file:

* Bill King, former owner of Century 21 Heartland, has expanded and renamed his title business United Land Title LLC. King purchased Regional Land and Title Services, a Marble Hill, Mo., office, in May 2007. He bought the title division of Lichtenegger, Weiss and Fetterhoff and in January merged with American Title in Dexter, Mo., and purchased Landowners Title in Poplar Bluff, Mo. He now has six locations in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Marble Hill, Poplar Bluff, Dexter and Sikeston, Mo., and will move the headquarters of United Land Title into the building now occupied by the Lichtenegger law firm when they complete work on their new Jackson location.

* Jeff Maurer of Mayson Investments sent me an update on the status of the first tenants at Regents Parc, 1610 N. Kingshighway. Banterra Bank, an Illinois-based bank, will open a branch office by late May and Saffron Grill will move there in June.

* The Southeast Missouri State University Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has a new director. Dr. James Stapleton, assistant professor of business and marketing, will work on updating the center's strategic plan and offer new initiatives such as the Start-Up Cafe, operated by a network of international business schools to provide physical and virtual space for students interested in entrepreneurship. Stapleton has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at the Harrison College of Business since 2006 and brings 10 years of experience in entrepreneurial and business development.

* William "Bill" Brockmire has opened an independent investment advisory service called Lexington Financial Consultants LLC at 824 Lexington Ave. Brockmire was formerly with Prudential Financial for 15 years, and said in his news release that being an independent adviser allows him to expand the choices he can offer customers and allows for better focus on the personal needs of clients.

* Hildebrand Jewelers in Perryville, Mo., owned by Tammy and Kevin Hildebrand, announced that it will provide free watch batteries to customers in an effort to promote donations to the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri. Normally, lifetime batteries cost $25 and one-year batteries are $15, Kevin Hildebrand said, but now they will encourage customers to donate. The effort will do two things, Hildebrand said. It will give hard-pressed people a break and raise money for the Humane Society. The donations may be any amount, he said.

* The Saint Francis Medical Center Auxiliary turned over $165,000 to the hospital, part of a $500,000 commitment to help build a rooftop garden on the planned Heart Hospital and Cancer Institute.

Rudi Keller is business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Contact him at rkeller@semissourian.com, or 335-6611, extension 126.

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