Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Supply Shopping

Visalia does not have a professional nail supply store.

I'm sure there are a few stores in town that sell nail supplies that would get their feathers all in a ruffle
if they heard me say that.

But trust me-- I've been doing nails professionally for TWENTY-THREE years-- we got squat here.

Back in the day we had Mel's on Main Street. That was the go-to source for pro supplies when I started out. Then I discovered that their #1 selling and recommended acrylic liquid product claimed a proud >89% Methyl Methacrylate Monomer on its MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and I promptly had a long conversation with Walt Applegate and his cronies that resulted in a boycott of the store that outlasted the store itself.

Good riddance.

I don't need to be giving my money to so-called "professional" supply houses that knowingly and willfully endanger my health and my license by selling products that they know are in clear violation of the California Professional Codes.

For a long time, that left me with Sally's or a trip out of town.

In case you have never noticed, Sally's Beauty Supply is not a genuine professional supply store.

Oh sure-- they have professional only discounts and some professional only products. As in, seriously, their policies do not allow them to sell those products to anyone who does not present the pink card. But most people will tell you that there are plenty of Sally's stores and/or employees who don't put a lot of stock in policies.

Sally's is also very supportive of the professional industry. I don't hold a grudge against Sally's, and they are very useful for picking up a few things here and there. But they aren't adequate for meeting the supply needs of a professional nail technician (or hair stylist, fwiw.)

For years, I relied on mail order to get the products I needed into the salon where I worked. Mostly Nailco (I think they're just "Industry Source" now?) because they put out this beautiful full color catalog every year with slick, shiny pages; they sold most of the stuff I used and/or needed; and they always put a Tootsie Pop in with my orders. They were the bomb.

Then Visalia got a West Coast Beauty Supply.

I was thrilled to the core of my wee little heart.

West Coast was professional only. (cue appreciative "ooooooooh" noise.) You had to have a professional license to shop there.

Well... welcome to the red-headed step child side of the professional industry. Walking through the doors of the place landed you under the icy glare of the pit bull behind the counter who immediately squawked "This store is for professionals only" in an accusatory tone before the little bell that signaled someone had walked in had stopped ringing.

She had a way of making you feel real welcome.

I watched a lot of other professionals walk through that door. Pitbull chick did a better job of relaxing when someone said they were a hair stylist.

Me? I would assure her that I was an actual licensed professional in the state of California and she would give me the once over and a raised eyebrow as if she didn't believe me. Then I'd ask about nail products and-- especially the first few visits-- I was sure she was fighting the urge to say, "I thought you said you were a professional" in a scoffing tone.

So once I fought my way past the door bully, I would find myself standing in front of the 15 square feet of space dedicated to nail products. The space consisted primarily of CND and OPI products-- some polish, some acrylic powder and liquid, and some fancy, over priced files.

Ummmm.....

I need disposable files and buffers-- because California got all uppity about disinfectables about 7 years into my career and insisted they are single use items. I'm not going to spend $1.50 per file for something that gets tossed after each service.

And I don't (and pretty much haven't ever) use CND or OPI acrylic. Even if I did-- they didn't carry the complete lines.

Also-- where's the gel?

Forms?

Buffers?

What do you mean, you've never heard of....????


Then West Coast became Cosmoprof.

Cosmoprof has been friendlier... but less useful. Not only did the nail department not expand, but every single *&@!ing time I go to the store, they have boxes and boxes and boxes of newly shipped supplies stacked in front of the nail supply shelf that serve to completely and most effectively prevent me from shopping for nail supplies at all.

I gave up. Haven't stepped foot in Cosmoprof in 3 years now.

Maly's-now-Saloncentric? Much friendlier. Not any more helpful.

Thank heavens for the Internet! And a couple of small shops in the Fresno/Clovis area for when I'm looking to go on an expedition or just waited too long for UPS.

Meanwhile-- people keep looking at me suspiciously and telling me I don't "need" to go to Fresno for my products. Or mail order them.

"Why don't you just go to Sally's?" they ask.

"Well then, what about that place over by Long John Silvers?" they counter.

What part of I AM RUNNING A PROFESSIONAL SALON HERE is so difficult to comprehend?


  1. I use primarily Tammy Taylor acrylic. Yes-- one of the places I shop in Fresno does carry it. No. Although I'm quite fond of the people at A&M Beauty, I am not at all convinced that they keep their back warehouse adequately air conditioned and move product at a fast enough rate that I can comfortably rely on the quality of the  product.
    1. I purchase my Tammy Taylor supplies directly from the company in southern CA via a very sweet sales rep who hears from me once every 12-18 months. Because I buy my product in bulk in order to get the best price and because I don't love paying shipping on multiple orders.
  2. I buy my consumable items such as files/buffers/sanding bands for the drill from a very sweet little supply house that only exists on the Internet. 
  3. I get most of my gel polishes from A&M in Fresno, and/or various trade shows-- because, "oooh! Shiny!" 
At this very moment in time I am frustratedly banging out this blog post because I can't seem to find a supply source for both Hand and Nail Harmony acrylic sculpting forms AND Marvicide disinfectant.

Shipping rates are astronomical. Partly because they have to be and partly because there are a lot of companies (not just beauty related) that screw you on shipping.

California actually allows companies to charge sales tax on top of shipping charges! WTF? California does not charge sales tax on services--shipping is a service-- sales tax should be calculated PRE-shipping.

You think California's going to tell people to give them less money?

Here's a thought-- where does that money end up? When all is said and done at the end of the quarter, do companies that collect tax on shipping really turn that in to the state? I bet they don't.

Because I have a CA resale permit. I fill out that paperwork every year. They don't ask how much I collected in taxes. They don't ask what I collected taxes on specifically. They ask what my gross retail sales were that are subject to sales tax.

Hmmmm.

So I can't help but suspect that all these companies that are charging me tax on top of shipping are pocketing the extra few pence because-- hey!-- shipping is a service that is not, technically, subject to sales tax.

Another problem is HAZMAT fees on shipping. A  lot of my products can't be shipped by air. So they have to take a slow truck/train/boat to get to me. And since a lot of my products are flammable/combustible/subject to spontaneous polymerization-- there are additional handling fees associated with shipping them.

In their sweet, thoughtful hearts, a lot of companies try to make shipping charges simple. So I end up paying shipping based on the price of my order. Sometimes this comes out in my favor (500 files are heavy) sometimes not.

The forms that I want. Really want. Because I really like them. Cost $13 for a roll. BTW-- that's kinda pricey for forms. It's not even a 500 count roll. Ouch. But they are so nice to work with. (And that's why I don't do $20 sets of nails.) But these forms are the ONLY thing I need or want from any of the sources that carry them.

I don't want to pay $15-20 shipping on a 2 or 3 rolls of little stickers. That's insane.

People think I'm crazy for making the 45 mile one-way trip to Fresno for supplies. I've done the math. My little car gets ~33 miles to the gallon. Even with gas at <$4/gallon, it can cost me less to drive to Fresno for supplies than it does for me to pay shipping to order what I need from 3 different sources.

Guess who gets to go to Fresno this weekend?
























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