Salon Design

Nails In New York

In a major city like Manhattan, how do nail salons operate?

In America’s largest city, what hours work best for customers and staff?

Where Manhattan (the largest of the five boroughs of New York City) is concerned, a cross-section of salons reported a general trend toward hours running into early evening, as opposed to the earlier morning hours most favoured by salons located in the suburbs.

Since some salons’ clientele is primarily composed of commuters, hours must meet the schedule of women in the city primarily for work. Having finger and toenails done professionally in a salon must fit around their individual work schedules in this case.

Some salons, however, especially in those parts of the city on the East side where a heavy concentration of commercial/ residential mix exists in most buildings, indicated their clientele represents a combination of both local residents and working women in the area during business hours only.

The former quite often are also working women thus, “fitting in” around a work and at-home schedule requires the same concern for open hours.

None queried open on Sunday regardless of their location or type of customer. Asked why, several indicated commuter customers do not normally come into the city at all on Sunday.

As for Manhattan residents, “They either devote Sunday to family, friends and fun or leave the city on the weekend for a second home or some other activity,” several explained.

Margaret Dunbar, owner of two Nails by Margaret salons, both on the East Side, reported in her 10 years of operation she has tested several open hour schedules.

Today both shops operate from 9 to 6:30. Only difference lies in the fact the salon on 65th Street keeps these hours six days a week while the 81st Street store operates only five days a week.

 “It’s a case of really knowing our customers, their needs, how often they will come in, what they want done, then trying to make this compatible with our employees and myself,” Dunbar explained.

Most of her steady customers come in weekly for manicures, every other week during the summer for pedicures.

A K S Nail Salon in Midtwon, salon personnel indicated their largely working women clientele prefer lunch or after-work hours. Because of this, the salon is opened 10 to 7 Monday through Friday and by appointment only on Saturdays.

Asked what that usually ends up meaning they reported appointments for the average Saturday year-round run from 10 to 4, often longer during holiday and other special periods.

From 10 to 7 Monday through Friday works best for Amazing Nail Sculpture on the East Side, according to Erika Breise, manager. The shop augments these hours by staying open from 10 to 7 on Saturday, closing Saturdays during the summer.

Since she is located in a combination building (commercial/residential), Breise finds the major share of her business comes from the immediate area. “Either they work near here or they live near here or both,” she said, in a comment echoed repeatedly by other nail salon operators throughout Manhattan.

Like most, pedicures are especially strong business during the summer months and largely with regular customers, “So we need the 10 to 7 schedule especially then to be able to handle everyone.”

For one shop in the Wall Street financial district, women working in this part of Lower Manhattan seem to be particularly preoccupied with their finger/toenails. In fact, several operators told NAILS, “We make it a point to do almost instant nail care for some women suddenly experiencing trouble with their nails and find they are about to go to an important luncheon or meeting so need us immediately.”

While most operators surveyed did not specifically indicate this, many did intimate that working women customers, especially business owners or large corporate executives, often call needing immediate nails attention.

 “Could be a sign of women finally making it to the top and wanting to be extra certain of their appearance,” one Uptown salon technician suggested.

At Confetti of Nail Lexington Avenue salon, Kay Choy, manager, reported their clientele includes working, non-working women, ones living in the city and ones commuting from elsewhere.

As a result, she has found being opened 10 to 6 Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday adequately meets her customers’ schedules.

A consensus of salon operators seemed to indicate that working and non-working women alike will make time for salon nail care at their favorite shop and with their preferred technician in New York City in just about the same timespan as occurs nationwide.

 “I guess the only thing different in Manhattan involves choosing a salon convenient for their at-home or at-work lifestyle,” the Wall Street operator noted, adding, “Other than that, it boils doen to a question of personal priorities.”

Where male customers are concerned, those operators surveyed indicated their number are far less than women customers. Men usually conform to the same time schedule pattern as women, are nearly all professional men concerned about their appearance, so will find the time to come for finger and/or pedicure work.

Most do, however, seem to prefer after-working hours appointments but rarely come in on Saturdays. “Guess they’re either away from the city on business or live outside,” one technician volunteered.

Operators were unanimous in explaining that the customer who lives outside the city suffers from that common commuter problem of being at the mercy of either mass transit (buses, trains, subways) or concerned about traffic tieups and delays if driving their own car.

 “Either way, you can sense them getting itchy if we’re running late when they arrive for their appointment,” a West Side operator reported. She added, “If the customer lives right near us, that’s usually far less of a problem.”

Do any of these operators foresee a time when they will alter their present salon hours?

Most agreed hours for any salon are always subject to revision. In the country’s largest city, where living in the city or commuting outside have traditionally been an important factor for any Manhattan business, most told NAILS they maintain a flexible attitude.

 “But most customers seem to have long ago come to grips with the personal question of where to work/live as it related to New York City, so I expect they choose us based on a part of that decision anyway,” the Wall Street operator observed, pretty much setting the tone for the responses of other operators queried.

 “It’s all part of the total package of New York City life itself,” she concluded.

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