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How’s Business: Nails anyone?

They are appearing everywhere, from Bell Boulevard in Bayside to Main Street in Flushing, and from Steinway Street in Astoria to Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. The manicure/pedicure market seems filled beyond capacity.

Manicures have become very affordable in this competitive market, but can one make a living in this business? Is there enough turnover? With an average manicure costing between $5 and $7, is it worthwhile?

I visited the Nail Art Studio on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria. The store is not just centered on manicures and pedicures, as its name implies, but also offers hair care, skin care and body waxing, as well as foot and body massages. I met with its owner, Sue Jan, who said that she entered this business to help her niece, who became ill and later died. Jan has been in it ever since.

Jan said she enjoys the business because she loves to socialize, and having a steady flow of new and established clientele is rewarding; however, she advised that this is the wrong business for those interested only in money, since it is not a money-making business but a break-even business.

Providing quality service, making customers feel comfortable and content are more important than money, she said. The Nail Art Studio staff is on a salary basis and Jan said she emphasizes that tips must be earned and not taken for granted.

With that said, in walks Anna, a client who instantly gives Jan a hug and a kiss. Customers are so happy and at ease that they work their way around her schedule, she said. Treating clients like family and establishing trust is key to obtaining and keeping business, but as any businessperson knows, it is impossible to make a living breaking even, she said.

So Jan elected to branch out next door in establishing a Laundromat with dry-cleaning service, alterations and shoe repair, and Jan said she also plans on opening a gift shop in the next couple of months.

It is clear that this is not a self-sustaining business; it requires the intuitiveness of diversification. So, how’s the manicure and pedicure business? It is one of long hours and not what one would classify as financially rewarding. Though the business may not be lucrative, if you are a people-person, such as Jan, a happy living can be made.

Joe Palumbo is a private asset manager as well as the fund manager for The Palco Group, Inc., an investment company at or 461-8317.

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