Tanchuk stands near the entrance to The Service Station, a mostly male salon that is decorated with old-fashioned Gulf and Mobile gasoline signs and an antique pump.
In a city whose male population outranks its female, it seems only fitting that there’s a salon catering to men. On my first trip to the Big Apple for the IBS New York show in March, I had to stop in for a visit. Smack in the middle of bustling 8th Street in Manhattan, The Service Station is a salon where the interior resembles a 1950s gas station and whose clientele resembles James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause.” Manager Mike Tanchuk says men account for 75% of the salon’s pedicure clientele. But that doesn’t mean that the salon doesn’t have any female clients. In fact, Tanchuk says women are attracted to the concept of a male salon and there are a few female regulars.
When the salon opened eight years ago, Tanchuk says he knew he wanted to corner this market The venture, a full-service salon aimed at men, may be risky for a small town, but not for New York, whose men folk keep themselves just as groomed, as the city’s women. To generate volume and build name recognition, the salon has donated thousands of dollars worth of services through local fund-raisers. The salon offers pedicures and manicures, massages, facials, tanning, and hair care. And since the majority of the clientele is male, The Service Station doesn’t offer acrylics or gels, opting instead for natural nail services such as its popular Paraffin Hand Treatment.
Walking into the salon, the metal floors, antique gasoline pump, and bucket seat taken from a 1960s Chevy give meaning to the salon’s name. Above the manicure tables, the wall is decorated with old-fashioned Gulf and Mobile gasoline signs and aging license plates.
Like most people in New York, my nail tech Tamara is an immigrant from Ukraine — typical of The Service Station’s nine nail techs. She arrived in New York six years ago and has been doing nails ever since. All of the techs are booth renters, making their own schedules, paying for their own supplies, and in charge of generating their own clientele. Like a true veteran, Tamara gave me a pedicure worthy of my expensive strappy sandals that I wore out dancing on my first night out in The City.
So, it seems the trend of men’s salons in New York shows no signs of receding, according to Tanchuk. In fact, he says business has never been better.