At Work: Converting an Old Garage in German Village into a Salon

At Work — By on February 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

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If you frequent Schiller Park, you have probably noticed that Head of the Park Hair Salon has left the building on the corner of Stewart and City Park Avenues. In 2011, after 28 years of leasing that space, owner and hair stylist Mindy Coffey became aware of a unique property, decided to purchase that building, and move her business. After renting for so long, Coffey was ready to grow her salon, knowing that moving away from Schiller Park would necessitate a name change and a complete brand overhaul.

“Salon 644 began as Head of the Park Hair Salon,” says Coffey. In 1983, Coffey was completing her training as a stylist and discovered the space at 53 Stewart Avenue was available for lease. It once housed a confectionery store.

“With the help of my parents, who co-signed a bank loan for me, I renovated that space from the studs out,” says Coffey. “At that time, it was pretty hip looking with floor to ceiling glass walls and a hand laid parquet wood floor my father and boyfriend installed.”

Finding a unique building for sale, close to her old salon location, and still in German Village was an exciting moment.

“Moving after 28 years at the same location was a difficult decision,” she says. “We even talked about the fact that the new business name was location specific since our street address is 644 Pearl Street. However, since we were purchasing the building and could not conceive of moving, we settled on another site specific name.”

Head of the Park Hair Salon became Salon 644 in its new home at 644 Pearl Street. A 900 square-foot space, it was the former location of F5 Design/Architecture, the offices for Benelava Stores, and was the primary location for The Zwelling Printing Company for over sixty years.

“I purchased the new space because it was located close to my old location and the building lent itself to easy customization and conversion to a hair and nail salon,” Coffey says. “I also liked the large windows and natural light that fills the industrial space.”

She started with the square block shell that had inadequate plumbing, and designed the space to meet her specifications.

“We had to jack hammer and cut through 18 inches of concrete floor to create channels for installing new plumbing for the shampoo stations,” she says. “We also laid rubber sheet flooring made from recycled truck tires for insulation as well as comfort for the stylists who are on their feet eight hours a day.”

Coffey served as the general contractor for the space, hiring various tradesmen to complete the work.

“I am lucky to know many good people in the construction business who are willing to share tips and contacts,” she says.

The work went smoothly, except for delays caused from working with City of Columbus building inspectors.

“There were several times I experienced delays and roadblocks that could have been avoided if the inspectors treated me like the customer rather than a nuisance,” says Coffey.

Salon 644 opened in the new space in the Spring of 2011. Coffey considers the conversion of the old garage into a well designed, stylish, and comfortable salon one of her best achievements. Her business includes two additional stylists and a nail technician.

“After working in such a small space before, I love the ability to move about freely in a well lit, open space,” says Coffey. “Our new space afforded us the luxury of having a kitchen area that is large enough for a dishwasher and a coffee maker. This may seem basic, but it’s a service that many of our clients greatly appreciate.”

The property at Salon 644 also includes a large backyard, which Coffey has turned into a blossoming garden with the help of her employees and clients.

“When I took the yard over, it was an overgrown weed patch,” she says. “When I shared with our clients that I wanted to convert it to a garden and invite them to participate, I was overwhelmed with the show of interest and started work on it shortly after opening our doors. As the saying goes, “It takes a village” and that is the only way I would have it.”

“We mostly grow vegetables with our clients who do not have room in their postage stamp sized gardens,” she adds. “Produce includes, green beans, tomatoes cucumbers, radishes, eggplant, beets and squash. We have even grown large pumpkins in the fall and used them for decorations in front of the salon. There is a wall of sun flowers along one border of the garden that gets lots of direct sunlight. We are talking about adding a bee hive in the spring.”

Coffey has donated much of the produce grown from the garden, and does more community work through The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, a group dedicated exclusively to the needs of women.

“Many of us have been involved with The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio since it’s inception,” she says. “We have lots of clients involved in this very important organization that empowers women with grants, workshops, and national speakers.”

Donating to The Women’s Fund allows Coffey to see how her giving directly impacts the local community. The annual Keyholder Event is slated fro May 1, 2014 and will feature humanitarian Ashley Judd.

Photos courtesy Salon 644.

For more information about Salon 644, visit Salon644.com.

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Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.

Author Bio: Anne Evans:
Anne Evans is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations for TheMetropreneur and ColumbusUnderground. She also regularly contributes to both sites with features focusing on living (At Home) and working (At Work) in urban areas and creative spaces. She enjoys scrapbooking, parties, her family and restoring a 100+ year old home close to Downtown Columbus.

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