Three women are being primped and pampered in the cozy space of Island Girl Nails in Clinton.
Each one is tended to by a licensed manicurist, and each woman heaps on praise for the women, who are celebrating 10 years in operation this month. Their customers each represent the clientele that has sustained and grown the nail salon since its inception in a small space across the highway back in 2005.
One woman, getting acrylic nails worked on by Sarah Wasser, has been coming for a few months. Another has been a regular visitor for three years. Even more impressive is Vivian Heggenes, a twice-a-month customer since the shop’s inception.
“She tells me I’m her oldest customer,” Heggenes jokes, accentuating the “old” in “oldest” to highlight the potential for insult by shop owner Vicki Thompson.
“They’re very friendly and make you feel right at home,” she added.
After seeing each other at least every other week for 10 years, they’re practically family.
“Everybody knows my kid and I know theirs, and their pets,” Thompson said.
“I want to build up a relationship,” she added. “They’re not just a number to me.”
Business was not always as brisk as it was earlier this week, with three chairs filled and clients scheduled throughout the day. Thompson recalled the lean years, times when she had to take out loans from her husband or the “bank of Dad,” or times when she and her daughter both had part-time jobs to stay afloat.
Thompson started the salon business after being laid off from a manufacturing job. She was 36. Needing to find another career and a job, she settled on trying to open a nail salon. It was a major life change. She was a novice to the world of tending to people’s hands and feet. Her first pedicure came from a fellow beauty school student.
After opening her first shop on Central Avenue in Clinton, she took a big leap a short distance across Highway 525 to the current location off Bob Galbreath behind the Chevron gas station and Dairy Queen — then a new building in 2006.
With patience, time and consistency, Thompson and her daughter Sarah built up a clientele that now has more than 600 emails (used for online appointment reminders).
“She’s the best,” said Patty Sievers, a customer for the past few years who was in earlier this week for a pedicure. “It’s relaxing, and if you’ve never had one, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
Through the month of February, the business’ unofficial anniversary between January 2005 when she got her salon license and March 2006 when she moved into the current space, Island Girl Nails is offering a “10 bucks for 10 years” discount of $10 off pedicures, typically which cost $40.