When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to simultaneously purchase a $375 antique fencing mask and also get a spray tan, residents of the Washington area may have found their options very slim. Until now.
This month, a new marquee appeared above the U Street storefront that used to house the eco-boutique Greater Goods, and before that a musty, cramped pet shop. The new marquee reads, “Fit to be Tan.”
It is entirely possible that Fit to be Tan, which will open Tuesday, is the world’s first antiques-shop-slash-spray-tan venue.
How it works: In the front of the space, there are shelves full of things that would remind you of your grandfather’s den, if your grandfather had extraordinary taste and the pioneer-chic sensibilities of, say, Laura Ingalls Wilder. There’s an artfully rusted bird cage, “Mad Men”-era office equipment, sepia-toned photographs. There is a lovely table set with purple-accented plates and vintage glasses.
In the back is the spray tan.
“I’m in a very image-conscious line of work,” says Paul Corrie, the interior designer who is opening the shop. “And so is airbrush tanning.”
Corrie, 34, has been an avid spray tanner since he was 17. A doctor found a basal cell carcinoma on his back and told him to stop broiling himself in the sun. For several years, he’s been visiting a place called Fit to be Tan in Arlington. Recently, the owner of that place asked him whether he would be interested in opening up a franchise. Corrie and his husband, Steve Ewens, liked the idea of owning a business but worried about straying too far from the aesthetic brand — he decorates Logan Circle condos, Adams Morgan lofts, Mount Pleasant rowhouses — that Corrie had spent years building.
They decided to do both.
“Maybe you come in for your [tanning] appointment,” Corrie says, explaining how this might work. Maybe you’re getting the tan because you’re going to a dinner party that night. “And you look around, and you’re surrounded by beautiful things.” Maybe, in addition to your tan, you are inspired to pick up an $18 hostess gift.
“Or the reverse,” offers Ewens, 39. You could come in for the hostess gift and decide to leave with a little glow.
“It’s about convenience. It’s about moving on from one thing to another,” Corrie says. It’s about the way that the fit, beautiful residents living along this strip of Washington believe that their bodies are their temples, but their houses — their houses are also their temples. If Corrie and Ewens added a little brie and wine corner to their store, Fit to be Tan would be the upscale urban version of Wal-Mart.
“Both of our parents were kind of a little bit ‘What is this?’ ” Corrie says, when they first explained the idea. But having visited, he says, they get it.
They had to see it to believe in it.