Day spas proliferate here
At least 10 new operations have opened in past 2 1/2 years
Chey ScottMay 19th, 2010
The day spa industry in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area is growing, despite lingering hesitation in consumers to spend money on personal indulgences while the economy continues to recover, some spa owners here say.
In the last 2 1/2 years, at least 10 new day spa businesses have opened in Spokane and Kootenai counties, bringing the total number of such businesses in the Inland Northwest to about 30.
A full-service day spa offers manicures, pedicures, haircuts, hair coloring, massages, facials, waxing, and makeup application. Many day spas here also offer those services in a group setting, for events such as spa parties.
Depending on the services they desire, customers might spend from as little as $15 for an eyebrow wax to hundreds of dollars for multiple spa treatments. Spa Paradiso, located inside The Davenport Hotel & Towers, at 10 S. Post, for example, offers a package called the "Well-Being Retreat" that includes a manicure, pedicure, facial, body scrub, and massage, and costs $424, its website says.
While most spa treatments are targeted toward women customers, many day spas here also offer couples packages and services catered to men, including facials and manicures.
Even with the addition of a number of new players that are bringing increased competition to the local spa market, some long-time owners here say their businesses are doing well, and they credit that to established and loyal clients.
One of those is A Nu Yu Salon & Spa, which opened more than 20 years ago and is located in a 1,200-square-foot converted house at 1321 W. Northwest Blvd. Owner Doreen Brickner says the business has had a steady stream of revenue but has remained flat in sales growth during the last few years.
"The new competition hasn't affected my business because I have so many years under the (A Nu Yu) name," she says. "I have a 20-year clientele following, and some of the ladies have been with me that long."
Brickner says she's also observed in many of those clients a commitment to continue receiving spa's services in place of other personal purchases, and she believes that has helped her business's revenues remain steady.
"Women, even though times are tough, are still doing things for themselves to make themselves feel good," Brickner says. "We still need to take care of ourselves; a lot of us work and that is a way to treat ourselves."
Spa Paradiso, the locally owned and family-operated day spa located inside the Davenport Hotel, has remained steady in its revenue growth, says co-owner Sarah Schoonover. She asserts that's due largely to an established clientele following.
Spa Paradiso employs 35 people and leases its 5,500-square-foot space from The Davenport.
One of Spokane's newer full-service day spas is Urbanna Natural Salon & Spa, and its owners Rick and Linda Biel say the business has seen fairly rapid sales and client growth since it opened in October of 2009, although it's still a young venture.
Urbanna is located at 168 S. Division, in the historic 5,500-square-foot Pine Creek Dairy building. It employs a total of 29 people, the Biels say.
They say their decision to open Urbanna was prompted by the experiences Linda Biel had after being laid off from a position at another local day spa. Following that, she temporarily rented a small workspace in a different day spa here, and practiced on her own as a cosmetologist doing hair, nails, and various other treatments, she says.
Rick Biel says the rental space created challenges for Linda in marketing herself and managing the other operational aspects of her services such as filing her own taxes, all while working full time in a space that wasn't her own.
Since opening Urbanna, however, the Biels say that the business's revenue has experienced steady growth, with a 40 percent increase in sales during the first quarter of this year compared to the year-earlier quarter.
Even though several similar-sized day spas have opened since the Biels debuted Urbanna, the couple say they're not too worried about increased competition in the local market as a result.
Rick Biel asserts the spa's prices are set competitively with what others in the area are charging for similar services. He says he and his wife also feel that the products, services, and employees at Urbanna help to set them apart from their competitors, and they also credit their success to a large percentage of repeat clientele.
Current Spa & Salon, part of the Northern Quest Resort & Casino, in Airway Heights, is one of the area's largest new full-service day spas, at 14,000 square feet, says spa director Yvonne Smith.
She says that since opening about a year and a half ago, Current has continually seen moderate growth in its sales from month to month, from both local and out-of-town customers.
"We see ourselves getting steadily busier," she says, adding that local customers bring in between 40 percent and 50 percent of the spa's overall revenue.
In contrast to the rapid growth at Urbanna and Current, The BrickHouse Massage & Coffee Bar, at 14222 E. Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley, has seen its sales continually dip since 2009, says its owner Carrie Magruder.
The BrickHouse opened in December of 2004 and has 25 employees. Despite its recent decline in sales, Magruder says she hasn't had to lay off anyone.
"We're holding on and holding steady," she says. "I know a handful of other business owners in the industry that seem to be having the same type of experience right now."
Though Magruder says she can't pinpoint whether those struggles are due to economic factors or an increase in competition from newer spas, she says she has noticed that several day spas in the area have changed hands in recent years and now are under new ownership.
She adds that while she hasn't seen more new spa operations than what she'd expect to be considered normal industry turnover, the new ownership at some could be a sign that a fresh perspective in the industry here is needed.
A Nu Yu's Brickner says she's also noticed a similar trend in the local day-spa industry of former spa employees here leaving and opening their own businesses.
"There are people branching off on their own, and it's tough times to do that right now," she says. "It's hard to build clientele."