Sunspot – Kirksville

  • Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019

What originally began as a daydream has become a reality for Denys McClanahan, one of the new owners of Sunspot in Kirksville, Missouri. The local tanning salon, which offers bed and spray tanning, was recently purchased by McClanahan and her fiancé, Jordan Miller, who took ownership of the business in February of 2019.

McClanahan had been interested in the tanning industry before and Sunspot presented her with the perfect opportunity to become a part of it.  “Sunspot had been for sale for a few years and I remember thinking, ‘Man, how cool would it be if I could own this place?’” McClanahan explains.

The dream took root and soon became McClanahan’s pursuit. She began searching for a way to leave her job and purchase Sunspot. Eventually, a family member directed her to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Kirksville, Missouri. There, McClanahan and Miller met with SBDC business counselor Anastasia Tiedemann. 

“Anastasia has been a saint,” exclaims McClanahan. “She just encouraged my dream.”

Together, McClanahan and Tiedemann began researching financing options. Tiedemann assisted McClanahan and Miller as they reached out to several banks to inquire about their loan programs. Their inquiries began in early November of 2018 and much to McClanahan’s dismay, acquiring a loan became a lengthy process.

Two banks declined their loan applications for Sunspot and the holiday season slowed their progress. To get things back on track, Tiedemann suggested that McClanahan and Miller contact a microlender in St. Louis, Missouri, called Justine Petersen. 

The couple met with a loan counselor from Justine Petersen several times. Tiedemann helped them gather the necessary documents and prepare the paperwork for the loan as well as register their business with the state of Missouri. In early January, the loan was approved. 

Sunspot officially reopened under McClanahan and Miller’s ownership on February 1, 2019. 

Looking back on the four month long struggle to purchase Sunspot, McClanahan admits that she was frightened and frustrated. “It was scary. It was just one road-block after another, but we didn’t give up.” 

Having been in business for over a month now, McClanahan is happy to report that Sunspot has already overcome some early challenges, including a leak in one of their rooms and a tanning bed that did not work properly. And although the busy tanning season has not arrived yet, the business is seeing an influx of new customers.

As she helps others feel more confident in themselves, McClanahan says her experiences have given her confidence, too. With the SBDC’s assistance, she has been able to accomplish a goal that she was not sure would ever come to fruition. 

“I never pictured myself owning my own business,” she explains. “If I hadn’t had help, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

Confidence is not the only benefit McClanahan has seen from purchasing Sunspot. Owning a business has also given her an opportunity to connect with customers, who she enjoys getting to know on a personal level. Additionally, her new work schedule is more flexible and allows her to spend more time with her children. 

McClanahan acknowledges that the struggle to get to this point was long, but worthwhile. For individuals who are looking to open their own business or purchase an existing business, she encourages them to not be discouraged and to just keep pushing forward. 

“You have to work hard and be willing to put in the physical, emotional, and mental effort,” she says. “If you really want it, put the work into it and know that nothing comes by chance.”