The Neon Sun sets in a Darque shadow

Alex Ebert

Tommy Van has closed his independent tanning salon Neon Sun, unable to keep his business profitable after four years in Stadium Village due to increased competition and a slow summer market.

Business at Neon Sun drops 90 percent each year from its peak month of February, when the store saw an average of $20,000 in total sales, to July, when Neon Sun brought in $2,000 on average.

Besides slow summers, Van said that direct competition with Darque Tan , a large, corporate salon company, was too much for his small business.

The most ingenious thing that the Darque Tan Corporation did was put a salon on campus last year, said Alex Klenmz , the manager of Darque Tan in Stadium Village.

“Compared to other salons it is like half of the price for better equipment,” said Klenmz. “That’s their model to get the most customers, the least expensive they can.”

Van said his salon didn’t have a chance.

“It’s like with Harvard Market if a Rainbow Foods moved in across the street,” Van said about his new competition.

The Stadium Village salon is Darque Tan’s busiest location in the country during the school year, servicing 300 tanners a day, Klenmz said. Overall, there are almost 100 salons in the chain.

Even the corporate chain sees a decline in the summer. Customers slip down to 130 a day during those months, but Darque Tan still stays open from 7 a.m. till 11 p.m., with all 20 of its rooms filled with tanning beds.

– Alex Ebert