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Business

Avery Salon is getting comfy in new West O.C. shop

3/2/12 | By Tony Russo

WEST OCEAN CITY — Peggy Hammond is perfectly at ease in one of the swivel chairs just off the styling floor at Avery Hair Salon. Her surroundings are a paradox of stark modernity and personal coziness. Call it comfortable-chic.

She joked that several of her friends have asked when she is going to paint the salon she and her die-hard employees occupied after moving form their former Golf Course Road salon. 

Hammond explained to them that the white paint and muted silver ceilings represent completeness. There is a good reason for this.

Anyone who had the pleasure of visiting the Avery Gallery in its old digs, can testify to the place’s cavern quality. Set up like an art gallery, and often confused with one, the place gave patrons plenty of room to be the focus of their experience. In the smaller space, overdecorating would amount to inducing claustrophobia.

The salon experience generally should be a personal one. The client is the focus and their is no need to distract from the fact. 

The Avery Salon experience is totally client oriented. The appointments are fresh and airy, the chairs, from the waiting room to the salon floor, are inviting and the light is friendly but not false.

The unity of effect is not accidental. A down real estate market kept Hammond on Golf Course Road a little longer than she’d expected but the benefit was it gave her plenty of time to develop her vision for the new salon. 

The work to bring her vision to life took only a few days because of the amount of planning she’d done. It was only a matter of execution, and a little serendipity.

The only aspect of the business that used to occupy the space Avery Salon now does that remains are the glass brick walls that set off the shampoo room. The bricks had been part of her vision so when Hammond came in to look at the place, the presence of the glass bricks seemed an indicator. So while the rest of the space was gutted and reconfigured to meet her vision, those walls stayed put.

Although little has changed about the quality of work, under these new conditions the salon functions better as a person-centric place now that the gallery aspect has been set aside.

“This is the next chapter in my life,” she said. “It was great when there were 15 of us [at the gallery] but the five of us are happy as clams.”

A more than 20 years ago, Avery Salon was in the space that now houses Bed, Bath and Beyond in the White Marlin Mall. Hammond saw and took the opportunity to expand into the building on Golf Course Road that she occupied for the last 15 years. The building and its trappings are still close to Hammond’s heart but times and tastes change and for the last few years she’s been looking for the opportunity to downsize and better personalize the salon experience.

While they retain their aesthetician services, for instance, Avery Salon is no longer in the manicure and pedicure business, or the day spa business for that matter. The idea of moving to a smaller space was to better focus the services they provided and meet the demands to which their greatest strengths were oriented.

For example, the personal service they provide and the familiarity with which they treat their clients is better served in a place that’s cozier. 

This recurring notion of friendliness and comfort is accentuated by what is kind of a design masterpiece, a wall-mounted, inset fireplace. Save for the mirrors, it is the only adornment the walls have and it sets it off just right because it suggests homeyness without distraction. 

Hammond said the word “Gallery” was dropped because it is becoming passe as a salon name. “Avery”, which is Hammond’s mother’s maiden name was retained as much for its nostalgic quality as because its reputation has remained impeccable for more than two decades.

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