Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CC Optimism at Downtown Barbers and Salons

By Cliff B. Lewis

Even with its opening delayed until May 11th, all of the five Downtown hair-care businesses interviewed by NewsLanc were generally hopeful that the Convention Center will have a positive impact on business. This optimism, however, was tinged with a realistic awareness of problems that might come along with the package.

Eddie Hall, the owner of Champs Barber School at 24 W King St, expected that the Convention Center will increase customer traffic, but could bring some operational inconveniences: “It definitely can’t hurt the business….I think, if anything, it could help. Now, parking could possibly be an issue.”

George Valentin, the owner of Who’s Next Barber Shop at 301 W King, carried a similar tone: “I think it will affect us positively….The only thing I’m scared of is the taxes….But, overall, as a businessman I think that it’s a good thing.”

Kathy Hainley, an employee at Daymaker Hair Studio, on the lower level of the indoor mall at 45 N Market St, indicated that Daymaker is an appointment-only establishment, and thus will not likely benefit from Convention Center walk-ins. Although, she noted that more Downtown visitors could never hurt. On a more negative note, Hainley, who also works in Human Relations, expressed a concern that the Convention Center would not be well-managed. Having visited the recent career fair, she was struck by a pronounced lack of professionalism among those running the tables.

Wanda Castillo, owner of Jannat Beauty Design at 402 W Orange Street, was confident that some conventioneers will make it out to her West End location.

And Wendy Farrell, co-owner of American Male at 14 N Queen St, eagerly anticipates the Convention Center’s May opening: “All is good. I think we’re going to do great.” In fact, when Farrell selected this Downtown location in 2001, it was in direct anticipation of the Convention Center’s eventual opening.

On the whole, the prevailing theme among local barbers and salons was that more visitors might mean more customers—and that’s never a bad thing.