Curves financial woes concern members

Financial troubles for a couple who own Curves fitness centers in Ashland, Phoenix and Eagle Point are creating problems for club members and worrying other Curves franchise owners in the Rogue Valley.

Brandie and Josh Wilson presently operate women-only fitness centers at 2321 Ashland St. in Ashland, The Shoppes at Exit 24 in Phoenix and at 151 W. Linn Road in Eagle Point. Court records show the Wilsons have previously been evicted by landlords in Ashland, Eagle Point and White City.

Ashland club members found doors locked during regular hours this week and began calling other Curves centers.

"I am worried about my business and the negative publicity," said Lori Stokes, who owns a Curves franchise in Central Point.

Telephone calls made to the Ashland and Phoenix fitness centers during regular business hours this week have not been returned, and calls placed to the Wilson's cell phone also were not returned. A manager at the Eagle Point Curves said that club is still operating.

Franchise owners of four other Curves operations in Medford and Central Point gathered Tuesday to discuss ways to let their customers know they are still in business. They said bad news about one franchise can taint others.

"The valley is a small place," said Roger Booth, who owns the east Medford franchise with his wife, Loretta. "People know each other, and people talk. If there is a really bad impression at one of the Curves, it reflects really badly on all the Curves franchises. We work really hard to keep our club clean and a well-maintained place where women enjoy working out. To have another club reflect badly on the reputation really hurts."

Booth said he has heard three types of complaints from the Wilsons' customers who have contacted him.

"The hours are really shaky and they're not open when they say they will be," he said. "Another common complaint has been the club has been charging accounts even after memberships have been canceled. The third is some have said they felt the environment was threatening."

Booth said he has heard more than most owners about the Wilsons' clubs because his club is at the corner of East Barnett Road and North Phoenix Road. "We get calls from a lot of people who confuse us with the Phoenix club," he said.

Becky Frusher, a spokeswoman for Texas-based Curves International, said the company will provide transition opportunities for members if a club closes.

"As soon as we are informed of a closure, we begin immediately to try to work with the owner to make sure that the club members do not suffer any loss of membership or workout privileges," Frusher said. "If the club does close, we attempt to inform the members that they can transfer to another club of their choice for no charge — temporarily until the club reopens or permanently if they wish."

The Wilsons' troubles extend beyond their franchise operations. Their White City home is due to be auctioned at the Jackson County Courthouse on Tuesday. A spokesman for the trustee said $172,504 is owed on the loan for the Stonefield Drive house, which went into default in April.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.

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