Believe it or not, Ciao! Hair Salon, a family owned business in Niagara Falls, has managed to maintain its edge for 20 years.
Ciao! Co-owner Bill Clark says the salon located at 7201 Porter Road is "where style meets luxury."
When Ciao! opened it had three stylists. Bill's wife, Mary Clark, the co-owner of Ciao!, started cutting hair when she was 16 years old. She worked for three different salons before Ciao! opened up.
Bill, after working in law enforcement for 20 years and then working in the restaurant business, retired in 1988 and suggested that Mary opened up her own salon.
Bill said he'd run everything for Mary. He told her, "You just do what you're doing now. Come in, do hair and go home."
And so, it began.
Bill deals with the day-to-day business operations, while Mary maintains the stylist end of things.
Ciao! Hair Salon's Success -- Making it in Niagara Falls
"Everybody likes Mary," says long-time customer Patty Paonessa, who has been going to Mary for the past 30 years. "She helps me learn how to do things on my own."
"It's not just me," Mary says, "It's the crew."
Bill agrees. "We have a great staff. ... It didn't happen over night. ... It takes time to get together a good staff, " he says.
Mary says it sometimes takes a while for new hairdressers to graduate to styling from shampooing, but, "When you walk in the door, you know you're going to get experience."
So what else makes this business so successful? Three words: word-of-mouth.
"We've got a loyal customer base," Bill says.
Arlene Wazny has been going to Ciao! since 1991. "They will do anything to satisfy the customer," she says.
"We've been fortunate in that I've been able to grow this business without the expense of advertisements. Now, there's not many businesses that can say that," says Bill.
Born and raised locally, Bill says, "Niagara Falls is a tough area to do business in. You pretty much have to fight for every nickel you get. It's always been that way."
Despite being in a difficult location for earning profits, Bill says the recent economic downturn hasn't really affected Ciao!'s business.
"It's just been another day at the office for us," he says. "We've always struggled in business in this city. ... When you're not riding that high, you don't have that far to fall," says Bill.
As for the future, Bill is currently in negotiation, with the Niagara Falls Fashion Outlets to provide a kiosk for selling salon products as an extension of Ciao! in the mall.
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