You might think that a full-service salon and spa that provides hair care to the St. Louis Rams’ cheerleaders would be best known for hair care. This isn’t so at Scandals Day Spa. Doing $60,000 in nail services each month, Scandals ranks nails as its top service — above hair, massage, and skin care, respectively.
The spa, located in St. Louis’ South County neighborhood, opened nearly 12 years ago as a nails-only salon. Over the years, the services grew, but owner Sandy Suter, a nail tech herself, always kept nails as the focus of the salon. I’d seen Scandals’ entry from our 2005 Salon Menus with Style Contest, and I’d made a mental note to visit one of the next times I was staying with my family in Missouri. When I visited my home state this summer, I dropped into Scandals for a few nail services before I headed back to California.
I arrived at the spa on the only sunny day of my Midwest visit. A little sad to be spending so much of my last day in Missouri inside, I quickly got over it when I walked in. The front-desk staff was friendly, and the windows in the manicure room (right at the front of the salon) were letting in all the sunlight I’d need.
Lisa Niehaus, a nail tech who has been with Scandals for about 11 years, gave me a Classic Pedicure to start off my services. The Classic was a simple pedicure that included preparing my feet for more sandal-wearing weather with a foot rasp (Missouri has no provisions for skin cutting), massage, and nail trimming. Showing how valuable good nail service is, one only has to look at the spa’s price chart for pedicures. Although the Classic is the basic, no-frills service, it costs $53, which is $14 more than a haircut and style there.
After Lisa and I finished in the pedicure room, it was off for a manicure. We settled in after she instructed me to wash my hands (Scandals stresses sanitation), and then I received a Classic Manicure.
While getting my arms and hands massaged, I chatted with Lisa and Sandy about the business. Although the salon does do acrylic nails, Sandy said that was not the bulk of the salon’s business. Instead of trying to compete with the $12 fill at local discount salons, they have turned their focus to their most profitable services — natural nails.
Just like many other salon owners across America, Sandy has been struggling to find the techs she needs, and she’s attacking that need from every angle. Every time a new receptionist is hired, she’s encouraged to attend cosmetology school. Scandals offers a cosmetology scholarship to a graduating high school senior in exchange for three years of work upon completion of school. And all hairstylists are required to do nails as well. With Sandy’s big plans for the spa — she hopes to someday open up a men-only spa — she’ll no doubt be seeking even more techs.