Health care bill could burn tanning salonsPublished 6:00am Saturday, December 26, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Trumping Santa, U.S. Senators had their own gift to give, passing a much debated, controversial, landmark health care bill early Christmas Eve morning.
The bill passed with a vote of 60-39, without a single Republican vote.
As many will try to decipher just what the bill means for them in the coming days and months – some of those within the industry are already well aware of what could be some potentially severe effects to their business.
“I’ve already written my congressman,” said Stefani Heide, owner of Tans Down Under, 1700 Oak St. in Niles.
Tanning salons like Heide’s stand to be hit with additional taxes through the just-passed bill. A 10 percent tax that will have to be passed on to customers, possibly impacting a customer base that has already cut back on getting their simulated sun, in a bad economy.
“Over the past two years,” Heide said she’s noticed a slowdown in business, “just due to the economy.”
She understands where her customers are coming from.
“You can’t blame people,” she said, admitting that even she’s cut back in areas of luxury.
Tanning salons still have their customers hungry for a little Vitamin D and ultraviolet rays. Heide said the winter break from school has helped and the spring seasons. “Usually it starts mid February,” Heide said. March, April and May are often when help carry her business through much of the year.
“Those are the months that really get us through,” she said.
But the imposed 10 percent tax has tanning salon owners up in arms. Owners, who are primarily women.
The Indoor Tanning Association, citing information compiled through the U.S. Census said more than 50 percent of tanning salons are owned by women (as compared to 25 percent of other businesses). And most of those businesses are small businesses.
The 10 percent tax increase, for example, could come to an estimated $25,000 for businesses like Heide.
“It’s the client that’s going to pay for it,” she said.
Those costs will be passed right over to the customer, a $58 dollar tanning package now costing close to $64, leaving those already struggling to cut back from luxuries like tanning even more putting many businesses in jeopardy.
“You’re going to wipe them out,” Heide said.
Many owners of tanning salons are upset with the tax and Heide said that they are being encouraged to write to their congressmen and voice their concerns, something Heide said she did right away.
Tans Down Under has been in business since 1994. Heide bought it from her mother two years ago.
For now, she said she will continue to offer specials and continue to do what she can to bring in business and take good care of the strong customer base she has maintained over the years.
As for the industry itself, the future’s a little cloudy.