What recession?

By Carlie Kollath
Business Journal
TUPELO – Not every industry is feeling the economic downturn.
“Our business is pretty much recession-proof,” said Betsy Christian, a sales rep at State Beauty Supply in Tupelo. “It’s the one thing that women are not going to give up.”
State Beauty Supply sells professional haircare lines such as Redken and Matrix to salons and licensed cosmetologists within an 80-mile radius. Christian said she hasn’t seen any change in sales volume or the types of products that are purchased.
And salon traffic is trucking along as well.
“Our business is still good,” said Alice Bethay, owner of the upscale Alice amp& Co. salon in Oxford. “I have been wondering every day when it might begin tapering off a bit. But so far, I haven’t seen it.”
She added that hair coloring remains the most popular service. It also is the salon’s most expensive service, ranging from $85 to $200.
In addition, she hasn’t seen a slowdown in manicures, pedicures, facials or waxing at her 19-year-old business.
“I can’t complain,” she said. “I’m going to think positive until I’m proven wrong. I think salons will be OK.”
Stretching appointments
One trend that is popping in area salons is that some clients are trying to stretch their appointment times a little further.
Some of the usual clients that come in every four weeks are now “six weekers,” said Shelly Harsin, co-owner of Head Over Heels Salon in Tupelo.
Bethay has noticed some of the salons’ clients are getting a haircut in between two hair coloring services. Usually, Bethay said the clients would get a cut and color at each appointment. But, she said the number of clients cutting back is small enough that her salon hasn’t been impacted.
Sarah McDonald, owner of Creative Touch Day Spa and Salon, said the salon this year hasn’t posted the record growth seen in previous years, but “we’re holding steady from last year, which we feel is a success.”
She said the salon also picked up a lot of business during spring break. Clients did staycations and opted for spa services instead of an out-of-town trip with a higher price tag.
“They felt they were saving money and we were the recipients of that,” McDonald said.
This month kicks off her busiest quarter of the year, when clients come in for pedicures and maintenance services. She has been encouraging her employees to do “anything you can do to make the service extra nice.”
An example of that would be a makeup touchup for regular clients after a haircut. It’s not a new practice for the salon, McDonald said, but with the economy, she wants her employees “to be more conscious that it is a choice and people have chosen to spend their money with us.”
“We want it to be as relaxing as it is functional,” she said. “Sometimes people choose this to be their one outing.”
Harsin also is focusing on appreciating regular customers. Head Over Heels in February launched a customer rewards card that gives customers $15 toward a hair service for every $150 spent.
She’s also focusing making sure the products and lines in the salon match up with price points the customers will pay. The salon recently added a more moderately priced line that offers a $10 shampoo in addition to the higher end $15.50 bottle.
“You have to maybe change some of your lines and professional products,” she said. “You may like them, but if you’re not selling them you have to change.”
But overall, Harsin, like the area salon owners, sees a bright future for the industry in spite of the recession as long as the businesses stay competitive and in touch with their customers’ wants and needs.
McDonald added, “I just feel we’re really blessed to be in this area because I don’t think this area has been hit as hard as some of the other areas.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.


Carlie Kollath

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