If a town’s number of hair salons is indicative of beauty, downtown Windsor would win the pageant every time.
Walking along Main Street on any given day, you’d be hard pressed to not have one of downtown’s 12 permanent hair places in your line of sight. From the far western outskirts of town to the final buildings in an east downtown strip mall, salon shops have sprung up seemingly everywhere. Currently, 16 call areas within official town limits home, according to Michal Connors, executive director of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce. With so many offering services and beautifying residents, one has to ask how shop owners are able to stay in business and avoid being swept under the rug.
While some offer specialty coloring and nail work and others bank on camaraderie, Windsor’s newest hair specialist, and only fully certified barber, Tyrone Chavez, said it all comes down to highlighting community.
“You just make their day,” Chavez said of a clientle from all backgrounds, ranging from traditional barber-seeking gents to the homeless-in-need. Chavez, who has cut hair for family members for years, is fresh out of barber school and will make his Windsor debut Nov. 3 at Lookin’ Good Salon, 508½ Main St.
“I’ve just always liked it,” Chavez said. “I’ve always liked small towns. The old-time barbers are back.”
As Windsor’s only known traditional barber, Chavez’s skills remain unique, including straight-razored shaves in an old-school chair — something Sara Valdez-Sisneros, owner of Lookin’ Good Salon, viewed as potential in what can sometimes be a challenging market, especially when 16 salons vie for a limited number of patrons.
A long-time Windsor resident, she opened her own business nearly four years ago, well aware that things could be tough. But after working at other area salons for decades, she had built up enough rapport with returning customers to branch out on her own.
She hasn’t turned back since.
“I think we stay afloat just because we’ve been in business for a long time,” Valdez-Sisneros said. “We know a lot of people. I just love what I’m doing, and I’m happy to be serving Windsor.”
With a base of regulars, the occasional walk-in and some who spend hours getting coloring treatments, she did say the future could be challenging as a new line of employees, without an established regular clientele, begins to come on-board.
“I am a little afraid,” she said. “That’s the one thing I think I do worry about.”
Being the new kid on the block never intimidated Carie Winter, owner of Windsor’s newest hair place, the Windsor Hair Shoppe. Though she admits she didn’t exactly investigate the market or need for another salon in town, she said business has been steady and growing in the month since she and three coworkers took over a brick building north of the railroad tracks on 7th Street that had a long line of hair history as Pat’s Place.
“I just decided, ‘OK, I’m ready to go out on my own,’” Winter said, laughing at the idea that her business could have completely failed with so much competition in town. “I believed in the girls I was working with, and I thought we could pull this off.”
Like Valdez-Sisneros, Winter worked in a nearby hair place for years but only recently decided to take on her own business — a process she said was challenging, though rewarding and successful — even in Windsor’s saturated hair market.
Winter summarized a notion that many salon owners in the area seemed to recognize by saying it’s always been about more than just the hair. Instead, she said, it’s about community and having the chance to change someone’s appearance and make his or her day, forging new relationships along the way.
“We become like a family,” she said. “Our customers are there for us to walk us through difficult times just as we are there for them. We try to meet their needs however we can. That makes you feel good when you make changes in someone’s life.”