When Tan & Tone America abruptly closed all of its metro area locations last summer, the stores — full of equipment — were locked, leaving paid customers fuming on the other side of the doors.
Now, abandoned fitness equipment and more than 300 tanning beds are hitting the auction block. It appears the business's owner, Ed Shelby, has moved away. Most of the 400 customers who have filed complaints have been reimbursed, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Dakil Auctioneers will host the auction starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday via a live webcast. Potential bidders on Monday can inspect the items, which include 275 tanning beds, 300 toning tables, eight spray tan booths, 15 red light rejuvenation beds, 30 stand-up tanning booths, plus soda machines, office equipment and appliances. The items are from 11 former Tan & Tone America locations in Oklahoma City, Bethany, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman.
Louis Dakil, president of Dakil Auctioneers, said he's received interest from health clubs across the country, as well as individuals looking to purchase a tanning bed for their home. He believes it will be the largest tanning equipment auction ever held in the state.
BancFirst stands to receive the proceeds from Tuesday's auction, he said. The Oklahoma bank is one of several entities that have a documented interest in Tan & Tone America and its parent company ACG, Inc., through Uniform Commercial Code filings.
The company owes more than $11,000 in unpaid unemployment compensation taxes to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and nearly $67,000 in unpaid sales tax to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Additionally, Shelby owes more than $215,000 to the Tax Commission related to International Fitness Centers, which went bankrupt in 1987.
When the Tan & Tone America franchise abruptly closed in July after 26 years in business, members complained they had paid membership fees they now couldn't use. Some had spent hundreds of dollars on yearlong memberships or had the company automatically deduct monthly costs from their bank accounts.
The state Attorney General's Office has received 410 complaints since the locations closed, said Diane Clay, director of communications for the agency. Most were reimbursed by the business' bank, she said.
Former customer Merri Watson, however, said she still hasn't been reimbursed the $300 she paid for a yearlong membership and is disappointed. “I could really use that money now, especially at tax time,” she said. Watson, who filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office, has since joined another gym.
Shelby, 81, founder and owner of Tan & Tone America, was connected to the now-defunct International Fitness chain early in his career, a business that also went under and left hundreds of former members with worthless lifetime or long-term memberships.
That incident led to the Legislature passing the Oklahoma Health Spa Act, which prohibits contracts longer than 36 months.
Ironically, the law didn't apply to Tan & Tone America because it exempts facilities that operate solely for aerobics or toning.
Shelby has not publicly commented on Tan & Tone America's demise. He and his wife, Becky, sold their northwest Oklahoma City home in November for $250,000, records show. Phone numbers for the company's corporate office and his home are now disconnected. He is thought to be living in Austin, Texas.