A place to escape

MARSHALL – Ashley Potter is going places. She has moved her business, The Escape Spa, because she needed larger quarters, and she has plans for further expansion.

Potter, a Canby native, has been a certified massage therapist for 14 years and has owned her own business for a couple years now on North 3rd Street in Marshall with an additional location in Cottonwood. She folded up those two locations and bought the former Red Cross/Boy Scout building from the Schwan Food Co.

The building wasn’t on the market, but Potter asked Schwan management if they would consider selling it.

To their credit, she said, they did.

“I want to thank them for the opportunity to expand my small business and invest in the community,” Potter said.

The building, which is located on West College Drive and 2nd Street, is in a great location, she said.

“I’m excited about the new location,” she said. “It’s more public. My other spot on 3rd Street was more of a residential area.”

With the move, she has gone from having two massage rooms to three, from one hair styling station to four. She certainly has more parking – from four spaces to 89 parking spots.

After purchasing the building, it was time to renovate it to accommodate her needs.

“We did a complete gut,” Potter said.

The renovation included new siding, floors, added rooms, walls, even new insulation. It is mostly completed, but she still has to redo the outside accessibility ramp and put in landscaping.

In addition to the massage rooms, and hair, manicure and pedicure section of the building, there is a facial room, a sauna room – which uses infrared heat – a walk-in shower room with a rainfall showerhead, and a retail room where patrons can shop for nail polish, lotions and facial supplies.

“I’m still in the process of developing the retail area,” Potter said. “I want to stock unique, fun items at realistic prices.”

Potter looks forward to the day when people will come in to shop at the store and be able to buy gift baskets and gift certificates, specialty chocolates and coffees.

“A lot of pampering items,” she said.

Potter said The Escape Spa is a good place for spa days – where groups can enjoy a day of relaxation.

“A popular thing now is birthday parties for children,” she said. “They love that.”

She also has bachelorette and bridal spa days.

“I can cycle through between two to 10 people,” she said.

The Escape Spa employs three massage therapists, three front desk people, a nail technician and two hair stylists. One hair stylist rents a station.

They all have the philosophy of providing a relaxing atmosphere, Potter said.

“We want our customers to feel very relaxed and unwind when they come here, to not be stressed,” she said. “We offer big city services with hometown values and prices.”

In addition to massages, wraps, hair styling, manicures and pedicures, Potter will soon offer a massage college, which will take place in the basement of the spa.

“I’ll have it renovated and read for viewing by the fall of 2013 and open for classes in the winter of 2013,” she said.

When the college becomes successful, Potter said, she will take it out of the basement and build a building nearby to accommodate that expansion.

“I know the Marshall area can support that kind of a program,” she said.