MISSOULA — Opening in September 2019 just before the pandemic hit, Skin Chic and its new downtown location would become one of the newest businesses to emerge in Missoula, and it would also face some of the harsh repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That second location on Front Street was the newest addition to the Skin Chic brand that was originally founded by Cindy Duncan in 2001. She still owns the shop, along with co-owner and chief operating officer Jennifer Clouse.
Their new, smaller location provided a large range of services including facials and waxing, and even some medical procedures such as botox and laser hair removal. But despite being open for only a couple of months, the spa was forced to shut down and stop all services due to lockdown orders as a result of the pandemic.
“We went into the winter, and then locked down,” said downtown manager Allie Schroeder.
Schroeder, who has held her position since March, has been able to gradually see the number of customers skyrocket as both social distancing and mask mandates have begun to fade.
Spas have been some of the hardest-hit businesses during the pandemic, completely relying on face-to-face customer interaction to make a profit.
Skin Chic was able to officially open shop again at the end of March. The transition was, at times, challenging due to the limited amount of people allowed within the spa. At first, all staff and clients were required to wear masks, which added to the difficulty for estheticians, accustomed to working with clientele face to face.
“Now that we are slowly starting to open up and Missoula is getting a lot busier, we have had an influx of people starting to come in,” said Schroeder.
Changes in the customer base have changed as more out-of-town tourists are coming to the spa as a result of the summer tourist months and the Fourth of July weekend.
“We definitely have a lot of last-minute bookings because their flights are last minute.”
Since opening again, Skin Chic has made it a goal to become more invested in the community, especially within the still new Missoula Mercantile building and its collection of businesses.
“We are starting to do more little pop-up things and events and trying to get more involved with everyone in the Merc to be more of a family,” said Schroeder. ‘It’s definitely been a lot better and everyone has been a lot happier than we can now converse and plan events together.”