It's not everyday that you hear someone propose combining a hair salon with an art gallery -- though word is it's an idea that's actually been successful in a number of places.
But that's the idea behind Rock Paper Scissors Salon, a new establishment on Chapel Hill St. downtown near Rue Cler that may open as early as this weekend.
With an art gallery, you need someone staffing the facility at all times, even though the art's just sitting there, salon co-owners Jenny Snyder (left in photo) and Jenean Eberhardt (right) told Bull City Rising during a tour of the facility last week.
But by marrying the idea with a salon, where staff are around all day to take care of clients' hair, you've suddenly axed all that art gallery overhead.
The art -- along with everything from homebrew beverages to a vintage pinball machine -- make up what will shortly be Durham's newest salon.
"We're not pretentious. We're really laid-back, where you can come and hang out for a while before, a while after," Eberhardt said.
"People can come and change, put on a robe and hang out with a coffee, a tea or beer, and just not feel like it's an in-and-out kind of thing."
Eberhardt, with partners Snyder and Laura Butler, are going into business together after a number of years working at Syd's Hair Shop on Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill. The three met at Syd's and decided that they wanted a more urban experience and base of operation; Eberhardt, who moved to the Triangle from Oakland, told BCR she has found herself increasingly drawn into the Durham scene over the years.
It doesn't hurt that Rock Paper Scissors will be closer for many of their customers, she added.
"We have a lot of clients that travel from here into Chapel Hill to get their hair cut," Eberhardt said, adding that the trio have customers of both sexes from their early 20s through their late 70s.
"I think people want something downtown that has the same kind of laid-back vibe, but with the same high-quality hair services."
The salon's arrival fills the last niche at The Addison, an apartment-over-retail rehab of a former toy store that's been one of the quieter mixed-use conversions in downtown of late. The Cliff Zinner project has fully leased up its upstairs apartments, with the salon closing out the leaseable space in the project.
"He's been pretty excited about the concept," Eberhardt said. "I think he had some people coming in with different things, and this was the first one that he said he felt really excited about."
With the art angle, expect the salon to be open on Third Fridays, naturally; the December downtown culture event will also host a grand opening for the salon, though the partners hope to be open up by the first weekend in December or so.
When we visited them last week, the landlord had completed construction of partitions in the space and plumbing work, ready for the entrepreneurs to set up shop in the comfortable, exposed-brick-and-rafters space.
Earlier in the morning, the recently-leased space still had the "retail space available" sign in the window; by afternoon, the crew was at work with "coming soon" signs in the pad a few doors east of Rue Cler and the still-under-construction headquarters for Durham indie label Merge Records.
As for the art, Eberhardt's husband Matt Hart and his partner Ron Liberti are working on a collaborative set of works for their opening. The work in the gallery, which will be available for purchase, should rotate every couple of months, Eberhardt says.
If pinball's more your speed, Hart's vintage Fireball table -- which got "loaded last on the moving truck" during the couple's move from California -- will be available for a play. So, too, will be the output of Hart's home-based brewing kit for the thirsty.
For all the challenges that come with opening a new business, though, Eberhardt notes that one -- the bureaucratic machinery of City Hall, visible looming right out their front window -- wasn't one of them.
"It's been crazy easy," she laughed. "I think coming from California, I'm so used to lots of hoops to jump through. It took us thirty seconds to get a business permit."
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Rock Paper Scissors Salon will be open 10am through 8pm Monday through Saturday initially. Their web site is currently under construction.