In early April, Hair Connection ended its quarter-century run on Broadway when it relocated to the Odd Fellows Building at 915 E. Pine St. in Pike/Pine. Hairdresser Hutch Cathey’s reasons for leaving Broadway might be a lesson about the challenges — and the opportunities — the area faces in perception if not reality.
“I heard from a lot of my clients that they were tired of walking on Broadway because of the streetkids, the homeless people, and the aggressive soliciting [by canvassers],” said Cathey, who has worked at Hair Connection for ten years. “Since we’ve been here, it’s been really nice.” Many clients say that even parking is easier in the new location, Cathey said.
The salon’s new home is located on the second floor of the Odd Fellows Building and is accessed through an internal stairwell. The space features exposed wooden beams and a decidedly more cocoon-like feel that Cathey describes as being “a bit like a speakeasy.” Cathey said that business has improved despite the salon’s not maintaining as visible a presence at street level.
“We were expecting to not have any walk-in clientele, but in fact we have had a couple,” said Cathey. “Business has picked up a little, which was strange, because any time you move a salon there will be a slight decline in clientele. We haven’t had that.”
Hair Connection owner Jim Vasser considered other spaces on Broadway, on 15th Avenue East, and elsewhere in Pike/Pine, but ultimately the space in the Odd Fellows Building was the most affordable.
Despite the loss of neighborhood fixtures like Hair Connection and Bailey-Coy Books, Cathey is confident that the Broadway business district will recover, albeit in a way that may not resemble the Broadway-of-old. “[Broadway] is going to do fine,” he said. “The problem with the northern part of Broadway is it’s going to be homogenized. The only businesses that can afford those rents are large chains.”
The former home of Hair Connection next to the Cafe Vivace walk-up stand could be the home of a smaller venture, however, wedged between a legendary coffee walk-up and the newly expanded Crossroads Trading.
And the move to Pike/Pine can’t solve all the potential urban ills. Despite Cathey’s hope that Broadway’s aggressive canvassing operations not follow Hair Connections to Pike/Pine, as I left the interview at the Odd Fellows Building, I was promptly approached by three Planned Parenthood canvassers.