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Glen Ellyn's Downtown Spa Hop: A Case Study

By: Sara Mason
Posted: May 31, 2012, from the June 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

More than 300 people explored the spas and salons in bustling downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois, for the Chicago suburb’s second annual Spa Hop in early February 2012. The event was organized to boost the local economy, enhance community spirit and promote wellness among its residents. “It’s a great way to let people know what we’re about,” says Jori Appleberry, a stylist at Namasté Salon in Glen Ellyn.

Meeting a need

Once the center for community and economic activity, downtown areas have suffered the loss of a variety of businesses to big-box stores and commercial strip malls during the past decades. Glen Ellyn’s downtown business district, with its independent retailer base, is one such community that faces enormous competition, ranging from other suburban shopping options to urban retailers in metro Chicago. To help offset this competition, the village—along with its merchants and chamber of commerce—came together in 2006 to create a central business district retail partnership known as the Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn. Its purpose is to develop events that bring exposure to local businesses. However, traditional events that were bringing shoppers to the area weren’t bringing foot traffic into the local spas.

Alliance executive director Carol White had been trying for several years to figure out how to help more people discover the benefits of the area’s skin care and salon businesses. According to White, “Economic data indicates that the sign of a thriving downtown is one that has a lot of successful spas and salons. But people are often shy about trying new spas, not knowing the atmosphere or the people.”

The Spa Hop was her solution. The all-day spa event gave area residents—and those from surrounding communities—an opportunity to experience the variety of services provided by local spas. Participants found that the event generated new clients during its first year in 2011, according to White, who was eager to repeat the event this year and will continue to do so next year, as well.

How it works

Eleven spas and salons from the downtown area participated to showcase their products and services. Each designated several services to be offered, ranging from massage, skin analysis and galvanic facial demos, to style consultations, manicures, day-to-night makeup advice and hair treatments. “A variety of products and services are available from the different businesses, and we wanted to be sure that people had the opportunity to experience them in a nonthreatening way,” explains White. Each service was also affordable at just $5. “Many people have said that they got to explore new services; it was low-risk/high-reward because it was so inexpensive,” she says.