PLATTSBURGH - When Jon Gerry and Bob Whittington opened Tangles Hair Salon earlier this summer, it was at a time when gas prices soared and people were wondering how they would afford their day-to-day expenses.
The two kept the uncertain economy in mind when they decided on the pricing for their services, but they wanted to do more than that. They wanted to truly give back to the community.
When you walk into their Cogan Avenue salon, an example of that is the any number of donation canisters or flyers that adorn their front desk, in support of local causes from saving animals to helping children with life-threatening illnesses.
"Any time anyone comes in, like always, we try to do something by putting out a donation can or giving them a gift card for a certain denomination for an event," said Jon.
"We don't want to give too much away, because we still have to be able to stay in business, but we try to do as much as possible," Bob said with a smile.
Their charity has also spilled over into the services they render. While they've tried to establish pricing far below the average costs of services in the Plattsburgh area, there have been several instances where they've gone the extra mile for a customer.
Prior to the start of the school year, a mother came in to the salon with her five children, said Jon. The two learned the family wasn't financially well-off, so they gave them a discount on the overall cost of the haircuts. In another instance, a woman came in who was hesitant about whether or not she could afford the services she needed, even thought the cost was still lower than other salons. Bob ended up coloring and cutting her hair and she received a manicure, all for a significant discount.
"What a difference it made," said Jon.
The reason the two are so driven in helping the less fortunate stems from Bob's own circumstances, in which he knows what it likes to walk in their shoes.
"I can remember a time when I was a single dad raising four kids and it was a tough time. I came home one night to find a bag of brand new coats on my steps," said Bob. "You remember things like that and do what you can to give back. I will always remember that bag."
In that same vein, Jon and Bob are wanting to coordinate with the Department of Social Services and its Ticket to Work Program. The program is designed to encourage those who are unemployed to seek work despite concerns of entering the workforce. Ideally, Jon said he'd like to be able to offer people who enter the program free or significantly discounted services to boost their self-esteem as they head into the working world.
"It's hard for women, especially, if they haven't worked in years or if they're entering the workforce for the first time," said Jon. "We'd like to be able to bring them in, give them a makeover, maybe some lessons on doing make-up, things like that."
"This is the first thing people cut when the economy gets bad because they figure they can get clippers and cut their own hair or pull it back in a ponytail, said Bob. "But, you know, that when you go looking for a job, your papers may look fine, they first look at you. And, if you don't look the part, you might not get the job."
In May, the two would like to hold a "purple day," in which customers who come into the salon wearing purple will have the proceeds from the services they receive donated to the American Cancer Society.
"We missed Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for next October, we want to do a pink day and have those proceeds go to breast cancer research," said Jon. "And, it won't matter if you're getting a perm, a haircut or just getting an eyebrow waxing."
Ideally, the two would like to have a special theme every month or every other month to offer discounts and special deals for their customers, especially in times of an uncertain economy.
"We're trying to get more involved more because I truly believe you've got to give to get," said Bob. "And, for the ones who truly need it, you don't want them to feel like it's charity; you just want them to be able to feel good about themselves."
"We try to do what we can and I think everyone should, especially since the holidays are here," said Jon.
Tangles Hair Salon, 2 Cogan Ave., Suite 107, may be reached Tuesday through Saturday at 324-4555.