As the tanning industry gets older, it’s also getting younger. More than 40 years since the first salons opened in the U.S., the next generation of tanning business owners is establishing a larger presence. The children of successful operators are beginning to take command of the businesses their parents started, and even more recently, there’s been a greater influx of new faces in the industry than has been seen in past decades.
Much like the early days of commercial tanning back in the 1980s, the potential for success in indoor tanning today is apparent to savvy entrepreneurs.
For those who weren’t in the industry, or even old enough to tan, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it’s easy to overlook how far we’ve come as an industry in such a relatively short span of time. Business models have changed almost entirely, starting from video stores and other businesses with a tanning bed in the back to today’s high-end membership-based tanning spas. Much of the progress has occurred out of necessity, but none of it would have been possible without evolving tanning technology that created new possibilities. The whole world is completely different than it was in 1980, but the progression from early tanning units to the space-age, high-tech designs of today is like the auto industry going from the Model T to the Tesla in just 40 years.
While tanning businesses today have more service and product options at their disposal than ever before, UV tanning equipment is and will continue to be the most important and most valuable asset. Whether technological innovation drove changes in the market or the demands of the market drove the need for innovation is up for debate, but either way, we’ve ended up at a place where well-operated tanning businesses are as sustainable and perhaps more profitable than they’ve ever been.
As we prepare for the next generation of tanning equipment to hit U.S. salons this fall, let’s take a look back to see just how far we’ve come and how we got here.