Name: Bahama Bronze
Owner: Barb Stajninger
Location: Chesterfield, Michigan
UV tanning units: 9 (Ergoline, Soltron, & SunCapsule)
Levels of tanning: 5
Products: Australian Gold, California Tan, Devoted Creations, Fiesta Sun, Ed Hardy Tanning, Hempz, JWOW, Millennium, Playboy, Snookie, Supre Tan, Squeeze Tan, Swedish Beauty, and Tanovations
Sunless: VersaSpa

Bahama Bronze is the brainchild of a businesswoman who’s not averse to risk. Talk about the American dream!

Barb Stajninger’s introduction to indoor tanning came from her daughters. Her girls were involved in elite competitive cheer and dance, and Barb was impressed with the industry’s purpose of helping people look great. Once the decision to open a salon was made, Barb had her business in 2010 in Chesterfield, Michigan. Six months into her salon ownership, Barb faced significant challenges. Rather than crumble, she endured. Today, Bahama Bronze remains a strong, independent tanning salon thriving in today’s market.

Perseverance, People, and Products

Most salon owners face a learning curve after opening their doors. Barb says she faced her biggest challenge just 10 months after she opened her doors. “I chose my location because a very successful gym was in my plaza, so I signed a five-year lease,” said Barb. Ten months later, they pulled out, which was financially devastating.” At that point, her business was the only one in the shopping plaza, which offered plenty of financial challenges. Six months later came the Tan Tax. “I learned every single day how to survive in this business, and I still learn something new every single day,” she added.

One the things Barb understands quite well is human resources management. She prides herself on treating the Bahama Bronze team with respect and encouragement. Rather than treat her staff as if they’re minimum wage drones, she says she routinely asks for their ideas and input. “Everyone here is valuable and necessary,” she said. “I have the best team members; they are on my front line.” Together, Barb says she and her staff make Bahama Bronze work by doing what is fair, reasonable and makes sense.

Bahama Bronze is known for having a huge lotion selection. “I have something for everyone at all price points,” she explained. “My goal is to have every customer get their lotion at this salon and it works.” Knowing her market, Barb has sold her tanning products at discounted prices since she opened her salon. To encourage tanning lotion sales, she has a glass product case that she invites customers to open, remove and product, and smell its fragrance. “Allowing them to be actively involved in their choices helps the sale,” she added.

A Strong, Independent Tanning Salon

As a salon owner, Barb has some good advice for other independent salon owners. When it comes to competition from large tanning salon chains and fitness centers, she says not to focus on them. Instead, she recommends focusing on your own business and achieving higher levels of client satisfaction. “I’m still amazed at the number of clients who come to us after tanning at large, corporate salon chains,” she said.  “We know our clients’ names and engage with each of them to make sure they feel valuable.” Barb and her staff customizes a tanning plan to suit each clients’ expectations.

Keep Going Forward

As far as future plans go, Barb has a few. The foremost one on her mind is the possibility of adding a high-pressure tanning booth. The new equipment would offer her clients even more tanning options. “What makes this business a success is that we change all the time,” she said. “We’ve weathered severe financial setbacks, the Tan Tax, and many other challenges. We definitely have our challenges, but the word ‘quit’ is not in my vocabulary.”

Best Wishes from Sun Biz Weekly!

We thank Barb Stajninger for taking the time to share her story with us. It was an honor to feature Bahama Bronze in our “Sun Biz Showcase.” It’s great to someone so dedicated to making her business – and the indoor tanning industry – a successful one. We wish Barb and Bahama Bronze a very exciting future!