Beach vibe in the Bakken
Stacy Ludwig wanted to bring the beach to the Bakken, but also bring a service to the community of Dickinson.
Ludwig is the proud owner of Aloha Tan, a tanning salon in downtown Dickinson.
“When we decided to open a tanning salon, I wanted everything that I loved in the store,” she said. “I wanted it where if you were on vacation, you could walk in and get everything you need from sunglasses, to flip flops, to tanning lotion to your tank tops, and that’s what we did.”
The ‘we’ being Ludwig’s family. In November, she along with her husband, Steve, and daughters, their daughters Mallory King and Ashley Baseflug, turned the key to a new business.
“It truly is a family business,” Stacy Ludwig said.
She said she enlists the help of her family from construction of the building, to computer help to maintenance and working the storefront.
Ludwig said she has enjoyed seeing her daughters bloom in different areas of the business.
“Who knew my youngest daughter, accounting and books would be her thing? That’s usually not it, but she’s taking it over,” she said. “My oldest daughter is just a pro at all things involving the lotions and everything else that is in the store. We all work well together. We all have our own areas of expertise.”
She laughs and says her expertise is decorating.
“I just love to decorate” she said. “I just want everyone to have a beachy vibe when they walk in.”
Ludwig paid attention to the small details in making her salon feel like a vacation destination, from the light wood floors, to the calm colors and the room names.
The rooms, she said, are named after places she visited when she was a child and always enjoyed.
“We really want to have a beachy vibe here so when people come in we’ll say ‘OK, you’re ready to go to Laguna Beach,’” she said.
And behind those doors adorned with a California beach name, customers can find a plethora of tanning and therapeutic booths.
Aloha has tanning beds ranging from level 1 to 4, depending on how deep someone wants their tan to be, two stand-up tanning beds, as opposed to the classic tanning bed that people lie in, a spray tan booth, an aquatic massage therapy bed and two red-light beds.
Ludwig said she originally started the business with the intent to have healthy tanning solutions.
“I wanted to do healthy tans,” she said. “We all wanted to do something with healthy tanning being involved which is spray tanning.”
But she said people still enjoyed the UV tanning beds, so she included those for her customers.
“Our vision when we started was just to do spray tans, but people still like UV tanning and so we incorporated that,” she said.
The red-light therapy beds is a service that she said she was excited to bring to the community because of its therapeutic benefits.
The red-light therapy claims to reduce inflammation, relieve joint pain, eliminate stretch marks and treats acne, among other things.
Ludwig said though she was initially skeptical, after she did research, she was excited to bring the service to Dickinson.
Aloha Tan customers seem to be enjoying it too, because Ludwig said they had to order another red-light bed because of the amount of requests to use it.
While Ludwig was initially cautious of how the city would react to the red-light therapy, she said it shows progress in the community for them to be so opening in trying it.
“Having been in Dickinson for many years, I wasn’t sure if this was something people would accept and want to try,” she said. “That shows, to me, how much our community is growing when they are so open to something like that and I don’t know if this would have went over 10 years ago even.”
She said that they have only seen 100 percent positive comments from people who have used the service, which shows the countless benefits from the red-light therapy
One of the complaints she said that they hear is the lack of parking in their downtown location.
She joked that she wants to make a video saying “I know our parking sucks but our tanning is great”.
Ludwig and her family picked downtown to open their store to be in the heart of the community.
“The vibe of downtown is really fun,” she said. “It’s really a community. All of the business owners know each other and will pop into each other’s shop which is fun.”
Before they decided on that, however, they had to come up with a business plan, which Ludwig’s daughter Ashley Baseflug created.
“Ashley is the one who actually got the business plan together,” King said. “(She’s) the one who heads up the training and is like, ‘Well this is what I think we should do as our next step.’ She is the brains. It was my mom’s dream and Ashley put it into action”
“Ashley put together a great business plan,” Ludwig agreed.
Baseflug, with a laugh commented, “Thank God it didn’t fail.”
The two sisters know how special it is to be able to work alongside their mom.
King is able to bring in her three boys to the shop and Baseflug, who is expecting a son this summer, is also able to bring her two daughters to work.
But aside from the benefit of having their boss doubling as grandma to their children, they love what they do.
“We are passionate about it,” King said. “We are always training so we are learning as much as we can so we can give our best to our customers.”
King and Baseflug both enjoy meeting and forming relationships with their more than 600 customers.
“We’re not in it just for your money. We’re in it for the relationship,” King said. “When you come in it’s not like we’ll take your money and say see ya thanks. We want to build that relationship with you and to make you happy. We want to make sure we do everything right.”
Ludwig said they want to make sure to make their customers feel special, from leaving postcards and mints in the rooms, to having water bottles for them while they wait, or sending out postcards to people after they use their tanning salon.
They want to be known as unique and personal.
Ludwig said she wants to be respected in the community for the service they provide.
“This is a small town and when we see our customers we want to be able to hold our heads up high,” she said. “We want them to know that we are trying everything to make them happy and we want to provide something for Dickinson, we don’t want to be just another business in town. We want to really be a fun place that people come and have a good reputations.”
Aloha Tan has brought the beach to the Bakken and King said that is something that she knows people enjoy.
“And people love to come here because honestly, when the beach is out of reach there is Aloha,” she said.