- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

Almost eight straight weeks of seemingly endless rain have left area residents desperate for other ways to get sunlight.

Many have ended their search at tanning salons, which are reporting sales increases of anywhere from 15 percent to 100 percent compared with a year ago.

“The rain is really tremendously helping our business,” said Scott Shortnacy, owner of Solar Planet in Old Town Alexandria.

The normal tanning-salon season typically builds throughout May until Memorial Day and then slows down, Mr. Shortnacy said.

However, this year his sales have shown no signs of tapering off: They’re up 100 percent compared with June 2002.

Since January, 30.47 inches of precipitation have fallen on the Washington area, more than double the 14.17 inches at this time last year. The average amount is 18.32 inches.

Christa Hoefer, manager of Endless Tan in Fairfax, estimated that she has seen at least a 20 percent increase in the number of customers in her store since the rain started.

“It’s been better than normal,” she said. “Because of the rain, no one can lay out.”

Whether interested in new tanning technology, such as the UV-free, spray-on Mystic tan offered at Solar Planet or searching for that hard-to-find hit of vitamin D, the customers are “coming in droves,” Mr. Shortnacy said.

Lynn Tallant, director of sales and marketing for all seven Solar Planet locations, said she has seen an increase in customers looking for heliotherapy as prescribed by their doctors.

“A lot of folks are very irritated because of the weather,” she said. “It’s made a considerable difference.”

Heliotherapy, the treatment of disease by exposing the body to sunlight, is often prescribed to treat seasonal affective disorder, certain chiropractic problems and some skin disorders.

Kelly Martin, manager of Hollywood Tan in Gaithersburg, said customers are complaining every day about the depressing effects of the rain.

“They need some sunlight,” she said.

“They want to come in and get sunlight or get warm in the rain.”

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