Periodically, floods sweep through Kansas City. In early June, 2010, five feet of water surged into the hair salon where I’ve been going for more than fifteen years, destroying it. It destroyed more than furniture and equipment. It wrecked a home. The Salon, like a lot of similar salons, was a little community center.
M., the owner and my stylist, had created a lovely ambiance with art on the wall, plenty to read, coffee and treats. From time to time, she would host craft sales and other events in the space. People lingered at the Salon, chatted, got to know every one. The salon was the center of M.’s many fund-raising activities for a host of charities. M. featured the work of many local artists and photographers.
M. was a stylist at the Salon for eighteen years, owning it for most of that. She couldn’t get flood insurance, so everything that was damaged is a loss. In the middle of the night, a wall of water broke through the windows, knocking everything around. For hours, the cabinets and chairs and other furnishings steeped in the shoulder-high angry, filthy water. Bottles of shampoo and conditioner swirled in the torrent, ending up in front of a restaurant at the end of the strip mall. When the water finally receded, not much could be salvaged.
The physical losses are painful, but what M. says she misses the most is the camaraderie of the other stylists and their clients. She and four stylists have found a temporary home in another salon. It’s a lovely place, but the stations are all cubicles, so you don’t see much of the other stylists or patrons. The other half of the stylists from the Salon found spots in another salon far away.
“That salon was my life,” M. says. She did have a premonition that it all might end, though. A minor flood two years ago left her feeling anxious at every heavy rain, so in March she didn’t renew her long-term lease. Instead, she renewed her lease on a month to month basis, so she’s now not obligated for another three years. That’s the main bright spot, if you can call it that. For now, she’s just going to style hair and not worry about running a business. She’ll re-group and then decide what to do.
It’s tough being a small business owner. They keep the country going, taking on risk and are often under a lot of stress, not just for themselves but for the many others relying on them for their livelihood.
M. will bounce back. She’s one of the most positive people I know. She has a huge circle of devoted friends.