If nail technicians and salon owners don’t sell retail, why do they care whether their favorite manufacturers do? Over the years, I’ve heard the complaint so often from nail professionals that they don’t want to see their products sold in retail outlets (that is, a place where anyone off the street could buy it). They want exclusivity of their brands and they want the cachet of a product that can only be sold by a licensed professional. And yet, so little real income is derived by nail technicians from take-home nail products that the protest seems disingenuous and unfair. It seems that nail salons are saying, “We don’t sell it but we don’t want anyone else to either.”

If your clients — the beauty consuming public at large —is so interested in a particular product and they cannot buy it from the salon where they get their nails done, why do you care whether they find that product at the drugstore? The boom of such companies as Sephora and Bath & Body Works speaks to the public’s ravenous appetite for cosmetics and beauty products, but we haven’t seen much expansion going on in nail salons. The big drugstore chains have made entire sections available for nail care because consumers have indicated that not only do they want nail polish, but they like treatments, nice implements, and they want to fool around with extension products.

You’d think shelves would be clearing in nail salons across the country to make room for nail treatments, polish collections, great-smelling lotions, press-on nail art tips, and the like. Manufacturers are more keen than ever on offering retail products, packaging them with consumer appeal, providing displays (many designed to fit on top of the booth-renting nail tech’s table), and pricing them for effective resale. And yet, we still see very little nail retail going on.

So again I ask: Why do you object to a company’s attempt to get wider use of its product when you won’t sell it? Nail professionals can’t say that no one can have “their” products if they don’t protect those products by giving them the retail space they’re entitled to and aggressively recommending them. If you want exclusivity, you’re going to have it. But you’re going to have exclusivity on products that no one has heard of and that aren’t supported by promotions and marketing, research and development. The saying “Use it or lose it” is apropos to salon products. If you want to keep them exclusive, you need to hold up your end of the bargain.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about