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Owner Adds Salon To Unit’s Floor Plan

Jennifer Gray noticed that customers of her downtown boutique here were looking for more than just the latest fashions. They wanted convenience.

ST. LOUIS — Jennifer Gray noticed that customers of her downtown boutique here were looking for more than just the latest fashions. They wanted convenience.

Gray found a way to provide it and generate more traffic for The Time, her 2,800-square-foot shop, by adding a beauty salon.

“It seemed like a natural progression,” Gray said. “Women need to get their hair done every four to six weeks and we need people coming in to shop regularly.”

She hired three stylists from local, upscale spas to work at The Time six days a week. Services include haircuts, coloring and styling as well as makeup application and nail care. The salon uses about 800 square feet of the boutique and is open to the shopping area. Floor-to-ceiling windows give downtown shoppers a view of the activity inside.

“It’s a little like doing hair on a stage,” said stylist Katie Hilgendorf.

“Everyone is watching what you are doing, checking out hairstyles…but it’s a great advertisement and we draw a lot of people inside.”

Rather than reading a magazine while waiting for their color to process, salon customers can check out the latest styles from Calvin Tran or Phyl Couture. “Today a lady came in to have her hair done and bought a cashmere sweater and a couple of shirts,” Gray said.

Customers typically work at downtown law firms and financial offices or live in the revitalized loft district, which surrounds the shop. The convenience of getting a haircut while shopping during their lunch break or on the way home from work is appealing. Gray promotes the salon at downtown hotels and among visitors to the American’s Center convention complex just two blocks east. She offers a Girls’ Night Out group special at the boutique for beauty services and shopping to prepare for a night on the town. The promotion, which includes a gift with purchase or a small discount, is popular with divorced women who want an updated look before reentering the dating scene and with women in town while their husbands attend a conference.

Gray initially tried teaming with a local salon to run a satellite location in the boutique, but decided that sole ownership would give her more control over the quality of services.

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“I’m trying to build a brand and maintain the image of The Time,” Gray said.

The boutique’s central cash wrap station also serves as the check-in and booking station for the salon. Any employee can check in a salon client, book an appointment or find the right dress size.

“It’s about making it simple for the customer,” Gray said. “Everyone is cross-trained, except you don’t want me cutting your hair.” While the trend of pairing a boutique and salon isn’t booming yet, Gray thinks it has potential.

She said, “It’s really that old department store feel when you had lunch at the tearoom after having your hair done at the beauty salon next to ladies’ coats.”