The next gym membership? How N.J.-based chain is shaking up salon services
The next gym membership? How NJ-based chain is shaking up salon services Once or twice a week, Virginia Misci carves a quick half hour out of her busy schedule of managing a rental unit, running her own business and raising her 7-year-old son to drop by Cherry Blow Dry Bar, a new franchise headquartered in Cherry Hill. As soon as Misci heard the specialty salon, which focuses mostly on delivering its specific technique for blow drying wet hair into shiny smooth styles, opened up, she gave it a try and was hooked. "It's my little luxury thing for me," said Misci, who worked the cost of the $99 monthly unlimited membership into her budget after she stopped spending the money on cigarettes. "Instead of smoking, I do this ...It's nice having someone do it for you." The company's owners and franchisors, brothers Fred and Steve Vicario, said that's the crux of their business plan, and one that's propelling them into a rapid expansion — being the only operation to take a time-consuming task off the consumer's hands and offer a membership plan for it. "There's nothing like this [in the area] ... We have a niche in the market," said Fred Vicario. He and his brother have seen the membership-driven business plan at work during their time at the helm of Hand and Stone Massage franchises, which also offers once-a-month fees for mid-priced luxuries. In addition to the membership plans, which also includes two blow outs a month for $50, they offer a wash and blow out for a flat $35 fee, as well as extensions and make-up services. The Vicarios stressed availability as a key part of their plan as well, pointing to their 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours which draw a base of clients who range from from women who work in the area coming in the early morning before a big meeting or event to those stopping by before heading into Philadelphia for a night out. The atmosphere is a carefully constructed experience as well. The blow out stations line a central bar, a mini red carpet area, sectioned off with velvet rope, provides a backdrop for Instagram-worthy photos of the finished product, and a constant stream of music videos plays on a big screen TV across from the bar. "It's wonderful here," said Misci inbetween chatting with her stylist. Each are specially trained in the Cherry Blow Out method, Fred Vicario explained, noting that of the 12 stylists they hired in the beginning, four had to be let go because they couldn't pick up on their specialized technique. "Nobody does the blow dry like we do," said Fred Vicario. While the business was named Cherry before it was brought to the township of Cherry Hill, the brothers said the location has also been a key to their success. Nestled alongside a "wholesome food" fast casual restaurant and a massage studio in a plaza with a Whole Foods as its anchor store, the blow dry bar brings in a local crowd as well as those from around the area. On Saturdays, fully booked stylists have to turn clients away, and they've sold nearly 200 memberships in less than four months. "We didn't know how fast it would start up," said Steve Vicario. The initial success has only fueled their plans to expand quickly in the tri-state area, and they've already started looking at setting up locations in Marlton, Voorhees, Deptford and Mays Landing. "Our goal is to open over 200 locations in five years," said Steve Vicario. His brother added his own optimism as well: "We can dominate the market."