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Not All Manicures Are Created Equally

Now that my full time manicurist/friend left me for Ann Arbor and her husband's new career, I am left fending for myself to get my nails done weekly.

Yes, it's one of life's great indulgences and yes, as the CEO of the largest nail distribution company, I do need to get weekly manicures and monthly pedicures (although the pedicures sometimes get pushed back).

My first visit was to an upscale salon on my way home from work. My second visit was to Immerse Spa at MGM Grand Detroit.

Not to get too detailed, I would like to point out the differences from an insider's perspective. Both locations are customers of ours, so whether or not the salon/spa bought from us didn't factor in.


Immerse was immaculate. The manicure table was preset with fluffy towels, all implements were in a hinged disinfectant tray, products were organized and clean. The polish was fresh and organized in wall racks.

Salon: The salon table was cluttered. The implements were in a Barbicide jar that didn't seem to be changed in a long time, the products were dusty and paper "C" fold towels were used. Some of the polish was old and separated.


Immerse used a brand new silver file, buffing block, gold block and orangewood stick. For pedicures, they use brand new red foot files (yes, all purchased from us). The cost of these items totaled $1.18.

The salon reused files, blocks and sticks.

The price of the manicures were $25 and $23 respectively.


Immerse manicure took 45 minutes and started out with a Lavender Relaxation spray. Cuticle remover, cuticle oil, hand mask, massage lotion were all used. The massage was extra long and ended with a hot towel wrap.

Salon manicure took 30 minutes. Alcohol was used instead of cuticle remover and a drug store brand of lotion was used for the massage. Cuticle oil and hand mask were not used. I had to ask for a cloth towel to be used since the paper towels were disintegrating and disgusting.

Immerse also had a drying station available for polish, offered complimentary bottled water, coffee and fruit. The salon offered nothing.


Our industry sells one thing: service. The better the service, the better chance that not only will the client return, but also refer other people. Average or below average experiences are a deterrence and give consumers a reason for shopping at drugstores and discount stores and doing it at home.

The cost of the products used at Immerse were less than 10% of the service charge. Restaurants typically pay 25-30% for food costs. The point is that sanitation is more important today than ever and the cost of providing sanitation is lower today than ever.

The other amenities like hot towel wraps cost nothing but the cost of laundry but are priceless. If you are in the business, please use these tips and if you have others, I would love to hear them.

In the meantime, my journey will continue. It's fun, educational and my nails never had it so good.

Happy Tuesday!


Adam Harris was born in coal country, right in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. His father, Gregory, worked the mines every day and came home to his best friend, Jim Beam. Gregory had many frie


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