HIGHLAND PARK – Salon Lofts, independent suite rentals for beauty professionals, will open in April at the corner of Central and St. Johns avenues in Highland Park.
The site at 1831 St. Johns Avenue previously housed the Chicago Gold & Diamond Exchange, which was under lease through the first half of 2017, but is most well-known for the iconic Gsell Pharmacy that was in business for over 90 years.
“We’ve been working with the landlord for quite a while trying to get the buildout just the way we wanted it while respecting the current architecture in place,” said Steve Schillinger, president and CEO. “We fit our prototype to respect the existing architecture and legacy for the neighborhood.”
The Highland Park location will have 24 suites that will vary in size. Schillinger explained that the stores are designed to be very flexible with the ability to remove walls and create larger spaces if needed. Some designs are pre-built with two spaces or even three.
“Our loft owners really take the space and make it reflect their own brand, said Candy Hopkins, creative director. “They come in and paint and do everything they can to make their business and brand stand out.”
Hopkins said beauty professionals rent the suites, but Salon Lofts considers them owners because it’s a step in owning their own business.
“In some markets it would be very difficult for them to do that, so a lot of them have been working in commission salons and have been working up to this,” said Hopkins. “It’s a great place for a lot of independent beauty professionals wherever they are in their careers.”
The first location was in Columbus, Ohio, 13 years ago and today Salon Lofts has 108 stores across the country. The first Chicago stores opened in December 2017 in River North and in Fulton Market.
“We’re always looking for markets where we find very strong and creative high-end stylists and when we look at different demographics Highland Park checked off all of those attributes with the tremendous professional base,” said Schillinger. “We’re very excited about opening that store.”
In addition to hair stylists, other Salon Lofts locations have had nail technicians, aestheticians, waxing, massage therapists, teeth whitening and cryotherapy services. Schillinger hopes to attract a variety of businesses “where health and beauty is an art form” to the Highland Park location.
What makes Salon Lofts different from other suite rental concepts?
“We don’t franchise and all of our stores are corporately owned, so that we’re able to deliver the best buildout quality, pick the best real estate and unlike many of our competitors, we offer a variety of tools to help support our loft owners,” said Schillinger. Some of these tools include: professional insurance, marketing services, and a call center in Ohio for questions and support.
Schillinger added that Salon Lofts helps beauty professionals “tailor their online presence” by featuring online services such as individual profiles and a scheduling system. He noted that these services are included in the rent which other competitors do not have.
“At the end of the day, the goal in Columbus and in all of our markets is to make the loft owners successful, because if they’re not successful then we’re not successful, so we take it very seriously, and that’s what makes us different from the other suite rental concepts.” said Hopkins.
Hopkins explained how salonlofts.com is designed to help someone in the neighborhood looking for a new beauty professional. The first step is for clients to choose a location, view several different profiles, find the right specialist and schedule an appointment online.
Customer pricing is entirely up to each loft owner who schedules their hours, pricing and selects the products they want to carry.
“The bottom line is that we pride ourselves on being able to figure out the right suite and the right access plan for any professional to be able to work out of a salon loft,” said Schillinger.
Salon Lofts will be located at 1831 St. Johns Avenue in Highland Park. For more information visit: salonlofts.com