One hangnail and two torn fingernails after my last stop in the Main Street Manicure tour, I stepped into Ann's Nails on Main Street in Madison.
I'll say this for : They make an effort to get noticed. Besides the large sign advertising the business (with black letters against a white background), they also have a neon window sign with their phone number and false vines with hanging grape bunches, with electric lights fitted in each grape. Even when you're not looking for it, you can't help but notice it's there.
I walked in almost at closing time, half expecting to be turned away. Instead, and despite no great shortage of other customers, they made a seat for my and got to work clipping and filing down my nails and cutting down my cuticles. The manicurist was a blend of clinical and caring, going about her work without too much care to my personal comfort until I emitted some small sound. Luckily she did have a naturally easy touch, not exactly gentle but hardly harsh or rough, and we struck a balance easily.
Maybe I'm just lazy, but I found myself drawn back to that luminescent, transparent pink color, not dissimilar to one I chose a few weeks back for another article. I pulled several other colors off the shelves, but still found myself drawn back to the pink.
The polish was expertly applied, and though the manicurist did not rush (it was, by the time she finished painting, past closing time) she made the brush strokes with precision and made nary an error. Not once did she reach for the nail polish remover to correct a blunder or remove polish from the skin.
Since I smudged my last manicure only moments after I left the shop, I was careful to sit under the drying fans for at least 15 minutes this time. The manicurist left, but the shop's owner stayed behind, and did not once ask me to leave or indicate that she wanted to get out of there. Pretty amazing, considering we were, by then, the only two left in the shop.
What really impressed me, though, was when I tore a nail four days later: Half the polish came off the finger, and the manicure was ruined. On a whim, I stopped back in at Ann's. Without hesitating, she asked me to bring her the polish and fixed the nail back up again, at no charge. Smiling, she sent me on my way.
Place: Ann's Nails, 25 Main St., Madison
Cost: A manicure is $10, a pedicure is $20. Currently the two are offered at a sales price of $25. The salon also offers waxing, massages and spa wraps at various prices.
Impression: Clean, not too many fumes, generally relaxing despite kitschy decor. Any place that will repair your nails days after you had your manicure, though, is okay in my book. Walk-ins welcome.
Overall Grade: A