Hot Spot Tanning
What would make the owner of a successful tanning salon consider selling his business to a 20-year-old upstart? Robert Paolini may have been young, but he’d earned his bronze-colored stripes; since he was 16 years old, he’d worked long hours at the salon, and his friendly manner put customers at ease. When the sale fell through, Robert put together his own business plan, gathered investors—some of whom were former tanning clients—and opened his own salon, The Hot Spot Tanning Co.
The salon has since weathered a boom in the tanning business, and Robert attributes the company’s survival to an amicable staff, who have created an atmosphere he compares to the show Cheers. “People who tan visit the salon three to four times a week, more often than they go to the grocery store,” says Robert. “They want to go where they feel comfortable.” So in each private room, tanners can stow their gear safely on sturdy shelves, hang clothing on hooks, and refresh after sessions with deodorant, makeup remover, and hand wipes.
Warm-skinned patrons slip from high-pressure tanning booths, which coax out melanin with lights designed to avert burns and lend credence to claims that one is a model in a water-wings catalog. Against the hushed hiss of a Mystic Tan booth, Robert presides over a selection of supplements, sports drinks, and shakes, and draws on a certification in sports nutrition while guiding clients through health and weight-loss programs.