Photo by Caitlin Abrams
411 in Bryn Mawr, Minneapolis
The hair salon is one of the very few places these days where we stay put for two, even three hours. It’s a chance to check e-mail, read the gossip rags, and catch up with our stylist. But we could be trying on jeans and sandals—in a space where no one bats an eye at a head full of foils.
Salon 411, a fixture in Bryn Mawr for 15 years, turned its upper level into 411 Top Floor, an intimate clothing boutique for women and men. Sure enough, captive clients are shopping between services—so enthusiastically, that as 411 Top Floor recently approached its first anniversary, owner Jeffrey Caron turned an aesthetician’s room into additional space for clothing racks and fitting rooms.
“I knew our clients were shoppers,” says Caron, who owns the building his salon occupies. He tried moving some hairstylists upstairs but found it didn’t work well to have them separated. He’d long dreamed of opening a clothing store, and he says Neiman Marcus closing inspired him to finally go for it. Bryn Mawr is just five minutes west of downtown Minneapolis, and the salon attracts a lot of urban professionals who might not have time to shop in the suburbs.
Of course, Salon 411 isn’t the first to branch out beyond beauty services. The front of Sanctuary Salonspa in Excelsior is home to Lady Jane Boutique, where you can find a dress to go with that blowout. Jon Charles Salon in Uptown and Wayzata offers J. Hilburn custom clothing for men. FiveTwoSix Salon in St. Paul is nearly as famous for its art gallery in back as for its hair and spa services up front.
And that’s the key to truly establishing 411 Top Floor as a viable boutique: reaching an audience beyond salon patrons. It’s beginning to happen, says store manager Diane Pawlik, who has brought in local designers, organized trunk shows, and recently created an e-commerce website. Once people find out 411 carries Trina Turk, James Jeans, and Naked & Famous for men, they’re willing to go out of their way. Besides, Bryn Mawr is one of those charming urban neighborhoods where we’re always craving an excuse to linger. 411 Cedar Lake Rd. S., Mpls., 612-741-1987, 411topfloor.com