14 years, South Pasadena has been home to Out of the
Closet, part of a statewide chain run by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and
self-described as “the world’s most fabulous thrift store.”
Sunday will be Out of the Closet’s last day in town. The store on 1136 Fair Oaks Ave. will be closing after losing its lease to a franchise from a nationwide chain of massage spas.
On Wednesday, workers outside the store could be seen dismantling the sprawling Out of the Closet neon sign. An Out of the Closet employee told Patch that the store will not be relocating within South Pas or elsewhere but will be shutting down.
Starting Monday, the storefront will be occupied by Ken Graffeo, a San Marino resident who is one of the franchise owners of Massage Envy, a Scottsdale, AZ-based company that started in 2003 and is reportedly the nation’s largest therapeutic massage chain.
Graffeo expects to open South Pasadena’s Massage Envy franchise sometime in December.
South Pas already has 13 independently owned massage parlors, according to City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. Does it need another massage parlor, whether or not it happens to be a franchise?
“We definitely want business diversity,” Gonzalez told Patch, explaining that the city does not have the power to decide where massage parlors can be located and how they can be run because the industry is regulated by the state. “What makes a business community thrive is when you have not too many businesses of one particular nature.”
In the near future, Los Angeles County is expected to have about 35 to 40 Massage Envy franchises, according to Graffeo. “They’re not all open right now—there are people like me who are in the process of opening,” Graffeo said. A franchise in La Cañada and another one in Azusa is expected to open by the end of this year, according to Graffeo.
“We’ll probably employ somewhere around 40 employees,” Graffeo said, adding that he recently returned from Massage Envy’s corporate headquarters after receiving the necessary training for franchise owners. The company “likes to do a lot of community activities,” he said without elaborating.
“All our therapists are certified,” Graffeo told Patch in response to a question about whether he was worried about the bad press that massage parlors have been getting lately across much of Los Angeles County, from Eagle Rock to Long Beach. Last year, two massage parlors in South Pasadena were cited for alleged prostitution amid unsuccessful attempts by the city to shut them down.
“Our focus is really to give great wellness—well-being—and for people to have a really relaxing time,” Graffeo said.