GREENVILLE — In 2016, area residents will have one less place to “get their tan on.”
After a quarter of a century in business, Tropical Isle Tanning Salon will be shutting its doors December 30.
Doris “Dori” Howdieshell has been the owner/operator of the salon at 619 South Broadway for 25 years — a remarkable span of time for any small-town business.
“[A friend] said to me, ‘You realize this is the only tanning salon that’s ever lasted that long.’ I think that’s true, at least in Greenville,” she said.
Asked to recall a vivid memory of her time in the tanning business, Howdieshell laughed and related an incident that occurred many years ago.
“The most memorable thing that ever happened to me was a woman who had come in and was talking to me. She was very depressed. She went into tan, and she never came out. After some time, I banged on the door, banged on the walls — nothing.”
“I finally went in, and banged on top of the [tanning] bed. Not a muscle moved. And I reached in where her head was and just rubbed her head, and she startled. She was just out, she was so relaxed. It scared me to death. I have never forgotten that.”
What’s next for Howdieshell? That’s easy. She was elected to the Greenville City Council on November 3, and will take her seat in January, so a good portion of her time from this point forward will be devoted to city matters.
Further, Howdieshell will continue to serve on the Darke County Cancer Association and as an officer at the Moose Lodge, among other civic organizations.
On top of that, she says she would still like to get a part-time job “just to get me out of the house.”
“Staying at home would drive me crazy,” she said.
Howdieshell says, however, that winning the council seat did not precipitate the decision to close the salon.
“It didn’t have anything to do with it,” she said, noting that the closure was something that had been on her mind for about a year or so.
Despite setting her business aside, Howdieshell says she will remain a proponent of tanning.
“People are not given the benefits of tanning,” she said. “Sure it will hurt you, just like anything else — overeating can hurt you, over exercising can hurt you. If you overdo anything, it’s going to hurt you. But if you don’t abuse it, it’s healthy for you. It’s very good for depression. It’s good for eczema. In the winter it produces hormones in your brain that you don’t normally get in the winter. It cuts down on cabin fever.”
“Years ago, somebody came in and said their psychologist told them to come in. So I called the psychologist and he said, ‘Yeah.’ So that’s how I found out tanning produces a hormone in the brain that stops cabin fever, stops depression.”
While readying herself for upcoming changes, one thing will remain constant — the continuing support of her husband Mark. Coincidentally, the couple is also celebrating 25 years of marriage.
“He’s always been very supportive of what I do,” she said.
Howdieshell admits that driving by the building after the salon closes will be sad for her.
“I’m soaking it in. This has been my baby for 25 years,” she remarked. “It’s a bittersweet thing that I’m doing. I do feel bad about, because I’ve had so many loyal customers.”
Howdieshell added, “Greenville has been fantastic to me. A lot of my customers I’m going to miss, because they’ve become my friends, and I won’t see them as often. I’ve formed relationships. I consider them friends, not customers.”
“I didn’t do it alone for 25 years,” she said. “I feel like my customers, my friends, were right there with me, and they kept me going.”
Erik Martin may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.