by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Island Tan and Nails reopened its doors three weeks ago after being out of business for over a year. While the location is the same—on Route 38, one block east of Route 47—the name is the same, and even the friendly face of Kris Gray at the front desk is the same, it has a new owner.
Todd Mencias, formerly of St. Charles with family in Elburn, currently owns a tanning salon in Milwaukee, where he relocated while his wife attends medical school. He saw an opportunity to purchase Island Tan and its equipment in Elburn, and he went with it.
“I’m very familiar with the people and the area,” Mencias said. “I want to keep the atmosphere where everybody knows everybody. That’s why I didn’t change the name—because people are familiar with it.”
Former clients are also familiar with Gray, who worked at Island Tan for three years under the previous owners. She lives nearby and had seen the business stay closed for a year. When it reopened, she decided to return and has been contacting former clients.
“She knows just about everybody,” Mencias said. “She’s running the show for me.”
With a nail salon still in the planning stage, the business offers some features unique to any tanning salons.
For one thing, it will offer a membership for $10 a month. That fee entitles members to choose from three levels of tanning services and discounts on lotions and nails.
“Active members have access to their own set of pricing. If they come 10 times in one month and none the next, they don’t lose. They are in control of their pricing. It gives them more options and puts them in the driver’s seat,” Mencias said.
With a membership, clients pay $1 for regular bed tanning, $2 for super bed, and $3 for the Cyclone stand-up tan. Without the membership, three months of regular tanning is $61 and must be used within that time frame.
Mencias said that while he is not an expert in tanning, he is able to listen to what clients want and take a customer-focused approach to accommodate individual needs.
He also sees the salon as a more upscale business, using high-quality lotions. The equipment is in such good condition that the only updating he will do when business slows in the summer is more decorating. For now, he’s opened the doors to new and returning clients.
“People seem to like (the membership idea) once they understand it. It makes them feel part of the family, or part of the club,” he said.