By Mike Hazlip—
The lights are out for “I B Tan” at 6400 Sunrise Blvd., with the owner citing impacts related to COVID-19 along with rising business costs and a changing demographic in Citrus Heights.
I B Tan’s last day was Jan. 31, according to the business’ social media page. A notice from the business read, “With a heavy heart I regret to inform you due to rising lease costs we will no longer be able to continue doing business.”
Despite having a glowing 5-star reputation from reviewers on Yelp, owner Gary Steingroot told The Sentinel in an interview last week that a combination of factors forced him to close the business.
“COVID kinda kills it actually,” Steingroot said. “Every time the governor came out with a mandate, even though they didn’t close us, it got slower. It never really came back.”
A changing Citrus Heights demographic is another factor Steingroot says contributed to a decline in customers.
“Citrus Heights hasn’t been a good location for that type of business for quite a few years now,” he said of the waning demand for tanning. “The demographics have changed. Minorities that won’t use the service, or it’s lower income area right around there.”
Steingroot said business started to gradually decline more than a decade ago as the housing market shifted with sub-prime home buyers.
“Everybody moved out of the area,” he said. “I lost customers by hundreds because they moved to buy new houses in Roseville.”
With reduced income, Steingroot said a rent increase was the deciding factor to close. He said the landlord raised monthly rents more than $800, a cost the business couldn’t afford.
“If you’re already not making tons of money, $871, why do it?” he questioned. “You could work for somebody and do better.”
A manager for a nearby business in the same building told The Sentinel they were able to go from a month-to-month lease to a long-term agreement in order to keep the business open. The manager said he could not comment on other tenants’ leases, but confirmed that rent did increase for the building.
I B Tan isn’t the only business to darken in an industry once energized by trends and the disposable income of twenty-somethings. A 2016 report from Bloomberg shows a steady decline in the tanning business income, prompted by higher taxes and a shift in public health official’s approach to the industry.
The Federal Trade Commission called for the Indoor Tanning Association to halt a 2010 advertising campaign over concerns with cancer risks related to indoor tanning, according to Bloomberg.
So what’s ahead for Steingroot?
After more than three decades in the tanning business, he’s ready for change and is now studying cosmetology in a move that he hopes will enable him to have a steady income while keeping flexible hours.
“I’m done with running,” he said. “I just want to work and have some time off.”