Meeting a curve ball squarely, for a hit

Doug Boock
Sue Torbert pauses insider her Delicate Details shop, a business she's grown over the past nine years in Galva.

Life sometimes throws curveballs. Sue Torbert’s taken one thrown to her and smashed a hit.

Torbert has Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Reduced sunlight and colder temperatures in fall and winter can depress her. The depression isn’t overwhelming, but it can be annoying.

Her response? She opened a business in 1999, partly built around tanning beds. Nine years later, she’s still deriving benefits, for herself and her customers.

“Tanning helps (fight SAD),” said Torbert, who also offers nail care and many other services at her Delicate Details shop in Galva. “I then went to school for nails and it went from there.”

A hard worker, Torbert had cleaned houses for 20 years before opening her shop, now located at 352 Front St. She continued cleaning in the evenings for awhile, but now devotes all her time to her business.

“I’m a very driven person,” conceded Torbert, who lives in the tiny village of Nekoma east of Woodhull.

That drive has helped her achieve something most new small businesses don’t: simply staying in business.

More than that, though, she’s grown her shop. Today, she offers consignment resale clothing – including a strong lineup of prom and homecoming dresses; tanning beds; air-brush tanning (non-electric, sprayed-on tanning); funeral memory blocks and seasonal blocks (stylish glass blocks topped with ribbons and bow, highlighting the deceased or a season of the year); and full-service salon with two beauticians, Sheri Kewish and Rochelle Duke.

“I love people. I’m a people person. You develop a lot of good friendships,” said Torbert of things she likes most about owning a business. “I can make my own hours, too.”

Torbert, who’s open 8 a.m. to non-designated times Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, said being available to her daughter Hannah, a 2008 Galva High School graduate, was a key to her desire to have control over her working hours.

“It was very important to me to be at Hannah’s activities, so that’s (work schedule) a big plus. If she had, say, cheerleading or an FFA banquet, I could be there,” said Torbert, who also is open by appointment on Mondays and other hours as needed.

Torbert also cares about her customers. She’s professionally certified in tanning. That helps her guide those who come in and want to otherwise overexpose their skin, threatening their future health.

“I say, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t do that. I care about your skin and we want to treat it within safety guidelines,’” Torbert, a Toulon native, explained.

The downside of owning her own business?

“The ups and downs, the uncertainty” of sales, she conceded.

To help counteract that, Torbert has used a business model which avoids going into debt before expanding. Her only debt is a mortgage on her building.

“A lot of people go out and buy all new things and then end up going out of business because you can’t work that way with the economy,” she said.