MOORE — Valerie Carter was just as shocked as anyone when Tan & Tone America abruptly closed all of its metro area locations last summer.
As general manager of the Moore location at Main Street and Eastern Avenue, she was out of a job and suddenly locked out, just like her customers.
“I was sad for the women who stood outside the door here and cried because they couldn't come in. It was for them, and the other employees, that I felt the worst for,” Carter said.
Though she'd logged 21/2 years with the Oklahoma City-based tanning and fitness franchise, Carter had no choice but to move on, first collecting unemployment and then a new job. But she kept in contact with the landlord of the property, in part because her belongings were shut inside.
As the bank began planning an auction to disperse the equipment Tan & Tone left behind, the landlord from the Moore location contacted Carter to see if she was interested in reopening the store as her own.
Carter attended the auction Jan. 29 and bid on the tanning beds, robotics tables and other equipment still inside the Moore location.
She was the successful bidder for almost all of the equipment, she said, and made up for the rest by purchasing equipment from other locations.
Carter opened her business, Val's Sun & Shape, on Monday in the same location. She kept many things the same but did away with customer contracts. Members can have monthly fees automatically deducted from a checking account, but they can cancel anytime with 30 days notice.
“We want people to continue to come here because they want to, not because they have to,” she said. Many of her customers so far have been former Tan & Tone members.
“I recognize their faces. And a lot of them, I remember their names. It's really special what's going on here,” she said.
Carter also changed the store's hours, closing on Sundays to give workers time with their families. Val's Sun & Shape is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.