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Tropical Tanning Salon still closed

Before the Tropical Tanning Salon was closed off to staff and patrons in April, it was open for months without a license from the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology.

Since then, the salon’s makeshift sign has been removed from the window of 21 1/2 Court St. while the owner, Pam Hines, continues the battle to re-open the business.

All salons in Ohio must be approved and issued a tanning facility certificate from the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology, according to the Ohio Revised Code. Tanning facilities are not permitted to operate before receiving a permit.

The board hasn’t received a recent application for the salon and has no record of the business operating on South Court Street whatsoever, said James Whipple, who works in the board’s licensing office.

As a result, the board never made inspections to ensure all health and safety requirements were being met, said Shelley Billingsley, who also works in the board’s licensing office.   

“If the salon isn’t licensed, we don’t know about it and we can’t go in and make sure that records are being properly recorded, that the beds are clean and that the correct bulbs are being used,” Billingsley said.

In May, Hines sued her landlord David Full in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas for locking her out of the salon April 11 because she didn’t pay rent on time, according to court documents.

Later that month, Judge L. Alan Goldsberry ruled in favor of Full, saying Hines did not demonstrate “entitlement to a preliminary injunction” to allow her back into the building, according to court documents.

In June, Hines filed an appeal with Ohio’s Fourth District Court of Appeals, which remains pending.

 “I’m not sure (if the salon will re-open),” Full said. “It’s just in limbo.”

Hines did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The only time the cosmetology board issued a license to Tropical Tanning was in April 2000, when the salon originally opened on 11 1/2 W. State St.

Hines didn’t notify the cosmetology board when the business closed on West State Street, Whipple said, so the board is unaware of when it actually shut down.

Full said he was unaware that Hines did not have a license because he had nothing to do with that process.

“I knew there was a requirement, but I assumed (Hines) had done it because they had been in business for so long,” Full said. “(Hines) had no reason to let me know because I had nothing to do with the cosmetology board.”

Salon licenses aren’t transferrable from one location to another, Billingsley said. When a business moves, the owner must submit an application and fee to the Board for a new license.

“A lot of the time, a situation happens where it never occurred to a salon owner that they had to get a new license,” Billingsley said. “Maybe they don’t know, or they are just doing something totally illegal.”

An inspection of the salon on West State Street in 2009 resulted in two violations, including no certified operator on duty and skin typing — which identifies a person’s vulnerability to UV damage — not being performed by a certified operator, Whipple said.

“You’re not going to put someone in the bed for 20 minutes if they have very fair skin,” Billingsley said. “Our job is to keep the public safe. That’s why we require a salon to have a license, so we can make sure they’re following the rules.”

When Tropical Tanning relocated to Court Street, some of its patrons followed.

Katrina Bowen, a junior studying school administration at Ohio University, said she continued tanning at the salon because she could purchase 25 tanning sessions for $25.

“I went there because it was cheap,” Bowen said.  “I bought (the package), but then a few weeks later, they closed.”

Bowen is one of many patrons who has yet to receive any kind of refund for unused tanning sessions. She said she had 15 prepaid sessions left when the salon closed its doors.

“I was really mad,” Bowen said. “I spent all this money, and now I wasn’t going to get reimbursed and wasn’t going to get any answers. If they were to open back up, I probably wouldn’t go there. I would just see how to get my tanning sessions back.”

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