Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow -- Why Many African-American Hair Salons Are Closing

Small business owners who run hair salons for African-American clientele are seeing changes that are affecting their businesses, and not for the better. Years ago, African-American hair salons and barber shops were not just a place to get your hair cut but a social gathering place as well. It seems this is an era gone by.

Many salons are either struggling to stay alive or have closed. Why? Money. Their clients are more inclined these days to get their services done quicker and cheaper, leaving many of the nostalgic salons out in the cold. Times are changing, and salons that don't change with the times will most likely suffer defeat.

Dominican Competition

According to several reports in New York City, Philly and Boston, it seems the African-American salons' biggest competition are those salons run by stylists from the Dominican Republic. That's right! Immigrants from the DR are offering faster service and cheaper prices, and consumers can't resist - especially in this economy. And the hair stylists from the DR know what they're doing since their hair textures are similar to African-American hair. Many black women love getting what is called the Dominican Blowout - a very popular hairstyle, despite it's potential damage to hair roots.

Black Hair Salon Owners Need to Adapt

Like any other business, it's important to change with the times in order to succeed. If small African-American salons are going to survive, they need to do the same. It requires that they offer the kind of service their clientele wants, at the prices they are willing to pay. This includes keeping their prices competitive on not only hair cuts and treatments but also hair products. This is a huge area where their competition is simply taking over.

Broaden Out

In addition, they need to expand their services to include a broader range of clientele. As Therese Flaherty, director of the Small Business Development Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, explained, "Generally, minority businesses that are focusing on serving the whole community, rather than those that are just serving their own, are going to be able to compete in the broader community."
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