Kettering business asked to leave shopping center after 25 years

Martha’s Skin Care owner: “We are like a refugee business. Where do you go? You just go.”

UPDATE: A representative of a company that recently purchased a Kettering shopping center in a high-profile location said "the health and safety of shopping center patrons" was a factor in recent decisions to end leases with some businesses in the center.

Owners of two businesses featured in recent articles published by this news organization have disputed claims Heather Murphy-Zahora, the vice president of Fountain Square shopping center owner Miami Valley Commercial Group, issued through a third party representative in the following statement.

>>READ THE FULL STATEMENT HERE: Kettering shopping center owner says tenants told to leave for violations


For nearly 25 years, the routine was the same when it was time for Dr. Carol Ryan to renew the lease for the space in Fountain Square Shopping Center in Kettering that she rented for Martha's Skin Care. 

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She’d simply sign a new one.

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That changed in April.

Instead of signing a new lease with the center's new owner Miami Valley Commercial Group, Ryan said she and her staff learned they would have to leave the shopping center located at 3109 Far Hills Ave.

A formal letter soon followed.

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Ryan said she understands that business is business, but learning she’d have to leave and that the space was leased to someone else left her and her staff feeling shocked.

“It makes me tear up every time I talk about it,” Ryan said. “It was just the fact of it suddenly happening. We are like a refugee business. Where do you go? You just go.”

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Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Ryan taped the letter signed by Murphy-Zahora to her shop’s window. She said she hopes it helps explain the situation to her clients.

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The letter reads:

“As you are aware, The Lease will expire on May 31, 2018. After careful consideration, we have decided that we are not interested in renewing the Lease or otherwise continuing the tenancy of Martha Skin Care in Fountain Square Center. 

Accordingly, we will expect Martha Skin Care to pay the full rent due under the Lease for the month of May 2018 and to vacate the Premise on or before the Lease Expiration Date, in a broom clean condition and otherwise in compliance with the Lease. Upon vacating, please remove all personal property, furniture, products and equipment. A Miami Valley Commercial Group representative will meet you, Dr. Ryan, at 6:00 p.m. on May 31, 2018 at the Premises for you to deliver all keys to the Premises. 

Thank you for your tenancy at Fountain Square. We wish you success in your future endeavors.”

This news organization contacted Heather Murphy-Zahora, the vice president of Fountain Square owner Miami Valley Commercial Group, seeking additional information on May 16 after learning Martha's would be leaving the building. Murphy-Zahora issued a statement via a third party on May 17. According to the statement, "the health and safety of shopping center patrons" was a factor in recent decisions to end leases with some businesses in the center. >> Read full statement here

>> NEW DETAILS: Statement issued by owner of Fountain Square Shopping Center


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Elizabeth Wiley, the owner of Wheat Penny and Meadowlark restaurants, confirmed earlier this month that she and her partners would not open their gourmet sandwich shop ScissorTail Sandwich Shop in Fountain Square shopping center in part because of a leasing issue.

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Contacted for that article, Murphy-Zahora said her company purchased Fountain Square in late March and is excited about improvements on the horizon for the shopping center.


Ryan, a family physician, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of owning the shop in September.

She hopes to reopen Martha’s in the months to come, but said things will never be the same.

The shop founded 35 years ago by Martha Fano has loyal customers and staff, she said.

“It is my heart,”  she said of the shop. “We’ve shared in their special events.”

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Ryan said the shop employs seven people. They had to make  decisions about their futures quickly.

“It was very abrupt,” she said. “ You never like to end a business on such short notice. We have nowhere to go and no time.”

Manicurist Angie Ault started working at Martha's when her son was 18 months old. Dylan Turner is now 19 and in the Air Force.

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On Wednesday, she recounted how he weaved between the legs of her co-workers at Martha’s when he was a little boy and how he recovered from strep throat in a back room.

Ault said she has provided services to generations of women at the shop.

“They aren’t clients; they are family,” she said.

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Kettering resident Patty MacDonald, Ault's long-time client, said she started going to the shop when Fano still owned it.

“It’s been great,” she said. “It is local. It is quick. I know these gals.”

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Ault said she has found work at LaDeDa Le Salon in Oakwood.

Cindy Gray, a Martha's nail technician for 24 years, said the loss of lease has prompted her decision to retire.

“I could have hung in there a few more years,” she said.

Gray pulled out a greeting card from a customer. In it, the customer expressed how much she’ll miss Gray.

“You get to know the clients and their families. You go to funerals. You go to weddings,”  Gray said. “(The closing) is heartbreaking.”

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Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Photo: Amelia Robinson

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