'EDUCATIONAL' HAIR SALON OPENS ... There is now one less excuse for a bad hair day on Palo Alto's California Avenue. The April 1 official opening of Spoke & Weal at 334 California Ave., has seen to that. The salon joins the ranks of the numerous hair salons that dot the streets of the Cal. Ave. neighborhood. "We decided to open in Palo Alto because it is an amazing market that craves, wants and can afford excellence. And what we bring to Palo Alto is excellent work," said salon owner Jon Reyman. The shop replaces the 10-year-old Legar Salon, which closed earlier this year. Reyman said he wanted to start with a blank slate. "So we gutted the space, then renovated -- a process that took only one month. We had a great contractor," he added. Reyman wanted an open space and transparent look, "So we knocked down the walls and put in new floors. Basically, we unglamorized the place," he said, explaining that the less there is to distract, the more the stylists can focus on their work. The new salon looks a lot like a minimalist work of art, punctuated with high-energy stylists dressed in black from head to toe. "We wear black to separate ourselves from the clients. And it makes for a cleaner, more uniform look," he said. Blow dryers hang from the ceiling on long cords and one of the only touches of decoration is an assortment of potted plants throughout the space. Reyman and the stylists he trains have an unusual way of cutting hair, preferring to cut hair dry, not wet, with the client standing, not sitting. Calling it an interactive dry cut, he said, "When your hair is dry, it tells me exactly what it needs." Reyman appears to be part stylist, part educator and part therapist. "I sometimes call myself a Hair-apist," he said. Bearded and tattooed, complete with a Buddhist mantra inked on his wrist, he looks the part. But Reyman, a master stylist with an impressive fashion resume, takes hair cutting very seriously. And the banter during the cut is not about how the weekend will be spent, or the newest restaurant in town, but rather, "It's all about the hair: its color, texture, style. I'm only as good as my last haircut because that's my business. I'm here to help. I'm a triage. You can look at me as your last hope," he said. A Reyman haircut is not cheap. Although he charges $800, he said he has trained all his stylists with his techniques, "And cuts here begin at $65," he said. Spoke & Weal has already seen success. Its first location opened in 2013 in San Francisco, then a second salon landed in New York, followed by Chicago, with Palo Alto coming in as the fourth shop in less than four years. Two more salons are scheduled to open this year for a grand total of six. "That's enough for now," said Reyman, whose hair styles have appeared in a variety of fashion magazines including Vogue, Bazaar, and Elle.
STARBUCKS: MINUS ONE ... It was considered a major coup five years ago when Starbucks signed on to become a tenant in Alma Plaza. But alas, store employees said there were simply not enough customers to survive in the Alma Street location, and it thus becomes the second victim to leave the shopping center. Miki's Market was the first to say goodbye four years ago. It was replaced by Grocery Outlet, which is not only thriving, but exceeding expectations, according to John McNellis, whose company, McNellis Partners, owns Alma Plaza. "We filled an obvious need for a low cost grocer in the City of Palo Alto," said McNellis. An official notice printed on Starbucks letterhead taped to the front door went up last week announcing the closure, which is scheduled for March 31. It apologized for any inconvenience the closing may cause. With seven other Starbucks store locations in Palo Alto, another one in the Stanford Shopping Center, and an additional one on the Stanford University campus, along with a handful more Starbucks stores surrounding the borders of Palo Alto, it's a safe bet to assume customers will still be able to conveniently sip their lattes and Frappuccinos. Said McNellis, "We're sorry to see Starbucks go, but we're optimistic that we'll come up with an even better cafe for the neighborhood."
SPORTS SHOP CLOSES FOR GOOD ... After 87 years in business, the Palo Alto Sports Shop and Toy World plans to close its doors on Saturday, April 15. Owner Ed Hoffacker III was looking for another place to relocate the beloved family-owned business earlier this year, but decided to close up the downtown shop on Waverley Street for good after other places were either too expensive or too small. The historic Birge Clark-building that opened in 1930 first sold toys, but later expanded its market to sporting goods, mainly swimming gear. Michael Phelps even stopped by the store before making his Olympic debut in 2000. The business later made its stock available online through Google Express to cater to customers who don't have time to drop by in person. While General Manager Eric Hager said it's been a sad time for the store, he feels that downtown now caters to 20-something techies and restaurants. "It's like the downtown that existed for the store is already gone," said Hager, an employee since 1992. It's hard to miss the red "Retirement Sale" banner that's been posted at the storefront since earlier this month, along with bright yellow signs promoting 40 percent off everything this week. Before the store tips it hat off, it's bringing back T-shirts from more than 20 years ago with the original logo and a classic "Ed Sr. says," graphic that will be in the store starting Friday, March 31, for a limited time. The building hasn't been sold yet, but offers are under consideration. --Jamey Padojino
After a nearly 15-year affiliation with the Palo Alto Weekly, Daryl Savage will be moving on to a new career as Community Outreach Specialist for the San Francisco FBI. Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? The Weekly will check them out. Email [email protected]