A mom-and-pop shop boasting 23 happy years in business, It’s Tantalizing of Johnstown, PA remains a strong sunshine-seller today.
Twenty-three years ago, Doug and Connie Simmons were tantalized by the idea of purchasing the salon where they once tanned. Already successful businesspeople and owners of a shopping plaza, the couple bought the ailing business and relocated it within their plaza. Although remodeling the salon and gaining the trust of former clients took a bit of effort, it was well worth it, they say. For more than two decades, they’ve enjoyed putting smiles on the faces of their tanners, which keeps Doug and Connie smiling, in turn. And with the success of It’s Tantalizing and their other business interests, the two are happy to keep things the way they are.
From Video to Tanning
In 1990, Doug and Connie Simmons entered the indoor tanning industry the way many others did at that time – through the video rental industry. The couple operated a video rental store in their Johnstown shopping plaza, and decided that a salon would be a good addition to their business. “When we heard that the salon where we used to tan was being sold, we called the owner right away,” said Doug. “We then relocated the business to another area of our shopping plaza adjacent to the video store. We did this because we knew the importance of being hands-on business owners right from the start, and it’s definitely helped us over the years with everything from equipment maintenance to developing personal relationships with our clients.”
Like many new owners who purchase an existing salon, Connie and Doug soon realized they had their work cut out for them at It’s Tantalizing. “The first thing we did was disassemble all of the tanning units to thoroughly clean and re-lamp them,” Connie said. “We also cleaned and remodeled the entire store until we were proud to call it our own. As many of the former clients came back to tan with us, they remarked about how clean and well-managed the business was, which we took as a huge compliment.” Over the years, The Simmons have also received kudos on their staff’s customer service skills. “It’s very rewarding to know our tanners think so highly of them!” she added.
When choosing their salon’s décor, Connie and Doug opted to cover the walls with beaded, honey oak panels to create a “homey and comfortable” feel. The salon has 23 tanning units – nine Ergoline Competition 226, three SunDash 240G, a SunDash 240, three Ergoline Classic 450, an Ergoline Classic 600, one Ergoline Classic 650, an ETS, Inc. Sun Dome, a SunCapsule VHR 200 booth, one Ergoline Competition 232, and two HEX stand-up systems. Lotions by Australian Gold, California Tan, Designer Skin, Devoted Creations and Swedish Beauty line the shelves, and the business operates with Helios software.
An EFT program, Connie and Doug say, is only as good as the members who remain enrolled in it. “Much of our marketing efforts are focused on retaining the clients in our EFT programs by offering them value-based incentives,” she said. “We send our members one coupon calendar when they join and one every January as well, which offers progressive savings, such as discounts on lotions and upgrades. These coupons are designed to offer discounts progressively, with up to 30 percent savings during the slower summer months, and the incentives are usually enough to encourage them to remain in the program. We’ve seen a lot of these coupons come in, so we know it’s working!” It’s Tantalizing offers five membership levels to correspond with its five tanning levels, with monthly rates ranging from $21.95 to $79.95.
Staying the Course
After more than two decades selling sunshine, the Simmons find themselves faced with a decision. Should they concentrate on growing It’s Tantalizing into a salon chain? Or, are they happy with their current, thriving facility? “We’ve talked about opening a second store for the last couple years; but we’re not sure we’re ready,” Doug said. “We operate three other businesses in our plaza, so we’d really have to justify the need for a second salon before we’d get serious about it. Plus, our area is saturated with tanning salons, so we’d have to locate it too far away to be able to give equal attention to both operations.” The couple does plan to improve their current location, however, and are considering adding a sunless booth in the near future.
Being in the tanning business since 1990, Connie and Doug have had a lot of time to discover what they enjoy most about salon ownership. “It’s everything about the look-good/feel-good aspect,” Connie said. “We love seeing our clients come in with smiles on their faces, knowing that we’re going to do everything we can to make their day even better. It’s also good to know that we’ve helped to make a positive impact on their self-esteem.”
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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