Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — Here comes the sun. Well, sort of: Wal-Mart has added indoor tanning salons as a destination feature to its one-stop supercenters.
Celsius Franchising, Inc., based in Leawood, Kansas, has agreed to open 12 Celsius Tannery tanning salons in Wal-Mart stores within the next six months. Wal-Mart opened its first Celsius Tannery salon in Salina, Kansas on Sept. 1. In all, 35 salons are planned throughout the next year. Locations have not yet been determined and terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Wal-Mart supercenters average 190,000 square feet and sell everything from apparel to lawn and garden equipment to health and beauty aids. Supercenters also often lease space to banks, hair and nail salons and portrait studios to round out the one-stop-shopping concept.
So how does a tanning salon fit into the shopping routine?
“A lot is based on what we receive in customer feedback,” said a Wal-Mart spokesman. The tanning salon, he added, makes “shopping more convenient for them.”
Mimi Rosenberg, corporate director of national franchise development, marketing and sales for Celsius, said the tanning concept fits in well with a retail store because “tanning makes you feel better and look better in clothes. Customers can tan before they shop.” Each tanning salon will occupy approximately 896 square feet of retail space and operate nine tanning beds. Celsius Tannery locations are designed to have an upscale spa-like atmosphere and also sell indoor tanning products by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based John Abate International. The tannery utilizes three levels of high and low pressure tanning in standup and conventional beds.
“There will be very little difference between a Wal-Mart location and the freestanding Celsius Tannery salons, with the exception of showers,” adds Rosenberg, which won’t be present in Wal-Mart stores.
Rosenberg expects to keep each tanning salon open from 6 a.m. to midnight since tanning salon customer traffic during off-peak shopping hours is expected to be high. Wal-Mart supercenters are open 24-hours a day. No appointments are needed for tanning sessions, which are limited to 10 minutes per 24-hour period.
Choosing which supercenters are ideal candidates for a Celcius Tannery is determined by Wal-Mart and Rosenberg. Wal-Mart sends Rosenberg a list of possible stores and then Rosenberg studies the economic growth potential and demographics of each community. Areas where “new apartment complexes and businesses are being built,” Rosenberg said, are good indications for a successful tannery. The target tanning customer, she added, is a woman between 17-years-old and 50-years-old.
People with skin that is too light or too dark aren’t ideal candidates for indoor tanning, according to the International Smart Tan Network, a professional tanning salon association. According to ISMT, the indoor tanning business is a $5 billion industry and attracts more than 27 million American users each year.