When we go to Las Vegas for tradeshows, it is rare that we venture far from the convention center or the Strip. This past June was a totally different story because we decided to rent a car and explore a little further. Excited with the prospect of seeing more than just the usual hotels, senior editor Patty Oropeza, associate editor Erin Barajas, and I set off to visit salons on the “outskirts” of Sin City.

After the initial setback of getting lost driving the wrong direction down Flamingo Road, we finally got on track. Unfortunately, we were running so late Patty missed her appointment. So after dropping Erin off at her salon, Patty accompanied ne to Nail Country to act as my photographer for the day.

Salon owner Valerie Tobler, a nail tech for 10 years, opened Nail Country in 1997 in an upscale strip mall in the Summerlin area (a suburb of Las Vegas). Back then she had one of the only nail shops in the area, but thanks to a boom in population in the Las Vegas area, suburbs including Summerlin have been seeing much tremendous growth. Now, according to Tobler, there seems to be a nail salon on every corner. But she notes that the gym located next door acts as a strong anchor, as well as other good tenants (“like Starbucks”) in her strip mall. Thanks in part to her prime location, the salon sees a number of regular clients as well as steady flow of walk-ins.

“I found that you have to create a niche in order to stand out,” notes Tobler, whose Nail Country offers clients a comfortable, country atmosphere that feels like home. “We are the local neighborhood nail shop. We aren’t a spa and we aren’t a discount salon-we’re really more of a mid-level salon.”

Nail Country has 14 independent contractors, and although each tech acts as her own boss, they all work together as a team. Tobler provides all the equipment, and the nail techs provide their own products. “Everyone keeps their own hours. And everyone knows how to close up the shop if they are going to see clients in the evening.”

My pedicure was just what I needed after the mess of getting lost in this desert town. And true to the motto on Tobler’s business card, “Sometimes the Best Escapes are Closest to Home.”

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