Body Elegance Day Spa, the latest business to open on Main Street, is holding a grand opening/open house tomorrow (Saturday) from 1-3:30 p.m.
Located in the historic Wilbanks house at 500 W. Main Street, the facility has been completely restored to offer clientele an elegant but relaxing Victorian atmosphere. Owner Shelley Wayland, who was a nail tech at Cookie Cutters before venturing out on her own, said the old house offered just what she needed.
"I began doing less nails and more spa pedicures, and my business doubled," Wayland said. "A lot more people are looking at it as a health issue," she said. "People feel better when their feet feel better.
"We work with a lot of diabetics and we do foot reflexology, which is very healthy for the body."
Given this new direction, Wayland felt a different venue was in order.
"In that kind of environment, people want to relax, and here I was in a busy salon and I was getting frustrated."
A staff of seven at Body Elegance Day Spa includes three nail technicians, two massage therapists, and a hair stylist (Wayland is also working on getting an esthetician). In addition to spa pedicures, they offer manicures, gel overlays, full body massages, hot rock massages, haircuts and hair coloring.
Another advantage to buying the old Wilbanks house was that Wayland's husband, Scott, would have a home for what had largely been a mobile engine repair business. But before they could move in, the entire house had to be renovated -- a project that took them 10 months working virtually seven days a week to complete.
"The roof leaked and the ceilings were warped and falling down," Wayland said. "When we tore down the ceilings, we discovered the old ceilings that were two feet higher. They were covered with this old Victorian wallpaper, some of which we were able to save and frame.
The Waylands kept whatever they could, including the original glass door knobs throughout the house. They even found a source that could make a copy of the old skeleton key that was used to lock and unlock interior doors.
"We were also able to save the original hardwood floor in the living and dining rooms."
The floors in the rest of the house were made of planks covered by linoleum and carpeting. When they were ripped out for replacement, the Waylands got another surprise.
"There were old newspapers from 1939 laid down for insulation purposes," Wayland said. "They talked about World War II, Hitler and Babe Ruth. Just the price of things back then was so interesting."
Eventually, some of the newspapers will be on display in the salon.
The Waylands used their own money for all of the renovation except for the front porch, which was restored with the help of a $20,000 Community Development Block Grant.
The house was originally built around 1910 by Sam and Margaret Stewart.
"Sam was a constable for 10 years," Wayland said. "He also owned a slaughterhouse and a restaurant right next to the Ox Bow."
The exterior walls are made of the trademark red sandstone rocks that the Ox Bow Saloon and several other Main Street buildings have. The walls are 18 inches thick.
A pile of the difficult-to-find stones behind the house will be used for planters and other accent pieces.
As she toured her completed masterpiece, Wayland seemed unconcerned about the proliferation of similar businesses dotting the Payson landscape.
"There's something like 22 salons in Payson," she said. "But you figure there are 16,000 people who live here.
"I have a clientele base of 100 people. Out of 16,000 that's not very many."
Besides, Wayland figures Body Elegance is unique enough to be easily differentiated from the competition.
"We're looking for the repeat business, the people who want the whole body experience."
And then there's the atmosphere.
"Our customers can now slow down just a little bit as they are gently cared for while sitting next to an open window with a soft breeze blowing through and fresh flowers sitting on the sill," she said. "My desire to achieve a quiet, tranquil environment has finally arrived, and the words most often spoken by the customers are, ‘The atmosphere in this place is so peaceful.' Don't we all need a little peace in our lives?"
Body Elegance Day Spa's new brochure includes a poem by Mari Foret that Wayland says captures what she wants her "new/old" place to be:
The casual passerby
may only see
a group of women
having their nails done.
Workers and clients exchanging
pleasantries to pass the time.
But those on the inside see a sanctuary
where silence is as welcome as conversation,
where tears flow as freely as smiles,
Where tragedies and triumphs
bind new friendships.
Sure, some have left
as quickly as they came,
stopping only long enough to
prepare for a certain party or event.
Or to take a break
from a long and hectic day.
But those that took the time to linger
found a special place
where they could be -- quite simply --
A place where people
heal hands, body -- and hearts.