Blow-dry hair shops prosper despite recession

Dry Bar founder Alli Webb is in the business of selling glamour.

Despite the economic downturn, Webb’s Los Angeles enterprise is not only thriving, it’s actually expanding across America.

At first glance, Dry Bar looks like a typical hair salon. But it’s not. The stylists do not cut or color hair. Their goal is to make every client look like a celebrity with a professional shampoo and blow dry. The price of glamour is $35.

“It is such a good deal that I am willing to set aside $35 every week for it,” says college student Adrienne Zubia. “So I save my money on meals, because this is more worth it for me than going out to eat.”

Ms. Webb says she is selling much more than a simple blow dry. “We feel like we are not selling blowouts. We are selling happiness and confidence that comes with a great blowout, and I think women everywhere want to feel that way.”

Ms. Webb opened her first blow-dry salon in Los Angeles to fill a gap she saw in the marketplace.

“There was either a high-end salon where you are paying upwards of 80, 90, 100 bucks,” she says, “or there was the discount chain where you kind of do not know what you are getting.”

Celebrities including Julia Roberts and Cindy Crawford have gotten their hair styled at Dry Bar. Business has been so good that, in just two years, Ms. Webb has opened a total of 16 blow-dry bars across the United States. By the end of next year, she expects to open nine more.

And Dry Bar is not the only salon of its kind to find success.

“They are popping up every single day in a different location, and they are everywhere all across the U.S.,” says Gretty Hasson, who owns My Blow L.A., which opened two years ago. “We realized it was a big trend that started. It was in San Francisco, in Canada and some in New York of these blow-dry bars opening up and we realized what better place than Beverly Hills to open one up.”

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