By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
At its new location off the Kingmont Exit, Lion in the Sun is continuing to help customers look good, feel good and have fun.
On Feb. 11, Lion in the Sun opened at its new home off of Airport Road on Honeybee Drive. It’s stationed in the same building as Rocbody Fitness Studio in the space that used to be Kids Closet.
Lion in the Sun outgrew its White Hall store, where it had been stationed for 10 years, and decided it was time to move, said owner Kim Wherley.
She said the facility in Kingmont is about three times larger than the former shop, and also provides easy access from the interstate and has great parking. Wherley felt that Lion in the Sun would be a nice asset to the growing area close to East Fairmont High School.
After almost three months of major renovations, the building on Honeybee Drive was transformed into Lion in the Sun.
“It’s been a labor of love, but definitely worth it,” Wherley said.
She said the property owners, Ray Logue and Jason DeFrance, who are also building a bar and grille beside the tanning salon, have been great to work with.
Inside, the salon has an edgy style, featuring a blue, gray and black color scheme, and glitter wall paint makes the place sparkle. Wherley has plans to paint and renovate Lion in the Sun’s exterior in the future.
She wants clients to feel very relaxed when they walk through the door and happy to be there.
“It’s just very modern and beautiful,” Wherley said. “Everyone really likes the appearance of the salon and loves all the new equipment.”
The store offers 12 brand-new tanning units and four levels of tanning. It has a room for custom airbrush spray tanning and a special cosmetics counter where clients can try out samples.
Lion in the Sun has two other locations in Fairmont. The salon at 201 Morgantown Ave., which is the original store and just started its 19th season, has 15 tanning units and three levels of tanning. The store at 1313 Locust Ave., which will reach five years in business in September, offers 12 tanning beds, five levels of tanning and custom spray tans.
The three Lion in the Sun stores take walk-ins only, and people love not having to make appointments, Wherley said. Customers who buy packages can use them at all of the locations. And for people who have never tanned with Lion in the Sun before, their first visit is always free.
Each salon offers BleachBright 15-minute teeth whitening.
In addition, all three stores carry a cosmetic line by celebrity makeup artist Jennifer Bradley. The business offers an extensive line of lotions and skin care products, and strives to listen to people’s needs and find out what items best match their skin, Wherley said.
Lion in the Sun is also Fairmont’s largest distributor of Bee Fit ZXT bee pollen products, which are all-natural herbal supplements that help with weight loss, boosting immune systems and enhancing overall health.
The business has 12 staff members and is getting ready to hire four more seasonal employees. They are all Smart Tan trained and certified, and teach clients how to tan responsibly, take care of their skin and get the best results in the least amount of time, Wherley said.
“I feel that we like to get to know our clients individually and to know their needs,” she said. “We always strive to make everyone feel like they’re at home when they come tan with us.”
The workers, who rotate between the three salons, are friendly and keep things running efficiently, Wherley said. They take pride in always keeping the salons clean for clients.
“We have a great team,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without these girls.”
Her daughter Amber, the manager of Lion in the Sun, is going into her 12th season with the business; Latisha Kriston, the assistant manager, has seven years of experience; and Rachel Roush, the team leader, is in her fourth season there.
Wherley said all the staff members combined have a total of 50 years of tanning experience.
She explained that she got into the tanning business when she owned a consignment shop called Reruns for Wee Ones. Wherley had an extra room in the back of the business and decided to put a tanning bed there. Within weeks, the store was packed with tanning customers, and she kept adding more tanning beds and making the Reruns portion of the business smaller.
Around 2003, she sold Reruns, which became Kids Closet, in order to specialize in tanning. Kids Closet later moved to where Lion in the Sun is now located in Kingmont.
Lion in the Sun will celebrate the kickoff of the tanning season this Saturday, March 2, which the business calls “Sunshine Saturday.” From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day, all customers can tan for free, and everything will be for sale.
With the celebration, the business will begin offering its extended hours, which will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, go online to lioninthesuntanning .com or find Lion in the Sun on Facebook.
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.