You decide your wife deserves some pampering and buy her a gift certificate for that perfect haircut, facial and manicure at a posh Severna Park beauty salon.
But when she tries to use the certificate, she finds it isn't worth the paper it's printed on, and the shop, Elite Total Skin, Hair & Body Care, is closed and dark.
But don't panic. She can still use the certificate.
Todd Morgan August, co-owner of Morgan Gerard in Annapolis, said he feels so bad for former clients of Elite, which closed without notice several weeks ago, that he will honor gift certificates from the now-defunct shop.
"There's a lot of people running around without any direction.They don't know where to go to get the same services," he said. "I want to make sure the customers are taken care of."
Terry DeLorge, of Glen Burnie, said she had received Elite gift certificates for a manicure, facial and back massage as Christmas gifts. The certificateswere purchased a couple weeks before the shop closed, she said.
"It's really, really terrible that they'd take your money and cash your check only two weeks before they go out of business," she said.
DeLorge said she plans to take August up on his offer. "It's nice. Itkind of restores your faith in the businessman," she said.
Augustsaid he learned about the dilemma facing Elite clients, some of whomhave $200 worth of certificates, from a newspaper story. He decided that Morgan Gerard, located at 100 Annapolis Street, would accept anyElite certificates at face value as long as they're redeemed within the next six months.
He has no idea how many certificates "are floating around" and acknowledges his offer could cost the shop hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars.
But, he said, he's willing to take the risk, hoping some of Elite's clients like his shop enough to become regulars. "It's a form of advertising for myself," he said.
August, who co-owns the shop with partner Michael Gerard Curry, said his business is strong and his offer is not a gimmick to boost sagging sales.
"The recession hasn't touched us," he said. "I just felt sorry for their customers, who bought those certificates in good faith."
Elite, which was bought by new owners last June, closed after six months under new ownership, August said.
Zel Margolis, attorney for the shop's owners -- Asya Thomashev and Irene Levin of Owings Mills -- could not be reached for comment.
As of yesterday, the salon -- located at 900 Ritchie Highway -- was locked up tight, without so much as a note on the door saying it had closed.
Decorated tastefully in gray and mauve, the salon remains home to equipment, furniture and even cosmetics and hair-care products that were left behind. Large potted plants, also left, are beginning to yellow from lack of water.
August said his shop offers the same services Elite did, including hair care, facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. Some of his shop's services cost more, he said, such as haircuts, which runabout $35, compared with $27 at Elite.