Members of Curves in Damascus have lost a lot of pounds, but unless a buyer comes along soon, they stand to lose the very business that helped them trim inches from their waistlines.
"I love my job as a Curves owner, but health issues have prevented me from doing some things necessary to keep the business going," said Delaina Runestrand, a longtime Happy Valley resident.
She has owned the club for eight years, but will close it at the end of July if she is unable to find a new owner.
"This is a turnkey business, priced to stay in the community at $20,000, which includes franchise transfer fees and training fees," Runestrand said.
"If someone comes forward to be an owner, I will keep our Curves open as long as it takes for them to complete the training through Curves International, which is about three months," she said.
Curves of Damascus is a franchise of Curves International Inc., and requires an active owner who can participate in the daily operations of the center, Runestrand said.
The owner would have the benefit of a flexible schedule and a trained staff to cover the other hours. Curves International also has a training program to help an owner succeed.
Currently, Curves of Damascus has 150 members, "but the potential of so many more with all the growth that is happening around us. I have 58 members who come from west of Damascus, from Happy Valley, Clackamas and Oregon City," Runestrand said.
At one point, a potential buyer entered the picture but did not have enough cash for the sale to go forward.
"One of the requirements for a potential owner is to have $15,000 unrestricted cash. At the last minute, we were informed that only cash, not a business line of credit, would be accepted," Runestrand said.
"Members asked if they could donate to help raise the money. The potential owner had $4,000, so we needed to raise $11,000 in eight days."
Through fundraisers, donations and a raffle, Curves members raised what was needed. However, two weeks after the fundraiser, the potential buyer decided not to move forward with the sale due to personal family circumstances.
All money raised was returned to the donors when the sale fell through.
"Even though there have been ups and downs in this process, it has shown how much Curves means to all these women. They didn't think twice to pull together to support me and each other," Runestrand said.
"I am so proud of what we have accomplished in eight years," Runestrand said. "Professionally, I liked encouraging women to put themselves on the 'to-do' list and take care of themselves, which benefits those around them.
"I have been privileged to watch women support each other through the challenges and the joys of life." Personally, "I liked the flexibility it offered me to be an active mom. I could drop my kids off at school, work while they were at school, and then participate in after school activities or be home with them."
Runestrand added, "Together we lived up to our motto: 'Strengthening women strengthens families, strengthens communities.'"
'Community of caring women'
Happy Valley resident Anita Meier, a member of the Damascus Curves for nearly four years, said she did not want to see the business go away.
"Delaina has created a wonderful environment for ladies to come to and look forward to; she makes everyone feel welcome," Meier said.
She hopes a new buyer comes along, noting that it would be a good opportunity for a successful business with an established and loyal membership.
Clackamas resident Nancy Rader has been a member of the Damascus Curves since July 2012.
She said she originally joined Curves for the exercise program, but what she found was much more than a place to work out.
Curves is "a community of caring, loving, compassionate women, who not only care for each other, but care for the larger, surrounding community," she said.
While she has been a member, the women of Damascus Curves have donated to an annual food drive that benefits military families, and participated in both a back-to-school project that gave school supplies to children in need and a "Diaper Derby" that provided military families with disposable diapers and related items.
"We cheered each other on as goals were reached. We encouraged those who were struggling. If a member was sick or bereaved, cards were signed and sent," Rader said.
"I consider Damascus Curves one of my families, right behind my immediate family, my close friends and my church family," she said.
The business will be sorely missed, Rader said. "It's like losing sisters. It provided a place in which to interact with women I never would have met otherwise, since they live and move outside my usual social spheres.
"The surrounding communities will miss Damascus Curves' wholehearted support of those in need. I feel a deep sense of loss that nothing else will ever fill," Rader said.
"Delaina is a very special lady, and each of the other trainers as well, not only as trainers, but as individuals who truly care about the ladies of Curves. It is with a very sad heart that I will say goodbye to Damascus Curves."
20440 S.E. Highway 212
Call owner Delaina Runestrand at 503-658-1778