Photo by Kate Supa
Shopping at the Salon
Before moving to Peoria, Illinois, I hailed from the sleepy community of San Luis Obispo, California. A college town on the central coast, SLO (as the locals call it) is known for its hiking trails, nearby vineyards, picturesque mountain and beach views, and as Oprah once dubbed it, “The happiest town in the United States.”
What SLO is not is the retail capital of the world. The quaint, tree-lined downtown offers a spattering of surf shops and flip flop boutiques that cater to co-eds, but there isn’t a mall for more than 90 miles, and very little for a middle-aged working women who still wants to maintain a sense of style—me.
Jacque Leonard, the owner of Salon Roux in nearby Paso Robles, agreed with me. Having successfully infused her salon retail area with jewelry, candles and perfume, Jacque made a bold choice in 2015. She renamed her space The Rouxby and made it a true boutique by bringing in casual clothing, leather goods and accessories.
Jacque had a few advantages: Her large-sized retail space is a separate room, connected by a hallway to an equally large salon and treatment rooms. While she herself has a nice touch with displays, she hired a merchandiser with a background at Anthropologie to spend 10 hours a week to design displays and create retail stories. And, she and her daughter Cinamon (my stylist) truly enjoy planning and purchasing the merchandise together.
“We find many clients come in a half hour before their appointment just to shop,” Jacque says.
I myself rarely left without purchasing a few items, and I know on more than one occasion I watched in amazement as the receptionist rung up another client with more than $1,000 in retail sales. This year, Jacque is planning a marketing campaign, which includes print and social media, to attract more shoppers to the boutique who may then transition to new salon and spa clients.
I kept thinking about Jacque while I worked on this issue, first when editing the story about our cover model Elisha Smith in “Unbox Your Thinking” on page 22, and as I interviewed Gary Harlan for “Data Stars” which starts on page 32. They also have studied their unique markets and developed an unorthodox approach to salon retail which is both changing their sales and their profitability for the better.
While creating a boutique is not the answer for every salon owner, these stories should encourage you to think about what client need is currently being underserved in your community and how you bring in a retail answer to address it.
As I wrote this I called Jacque and she is grateful that she did. “With current legislation reshaping the way stylists can be compensated in California, no one really knows what’s going to happen and it’s a real threat,” she says. “I’m very grateful to really have two businesses right now.”
Stacey Soble, Editor in Chief, SALON TODAY