March 7, 2011 | last updated June 1, 2012 9:48 am
RETAIL NOTEBOOK

Franchise buyers bet on men's hair care

Franchisees Aaron Cramer, left and wife Donna, with Aaron Grondin, president of Rooster's Men Grooming.

Aaron and Donna Cramer are hoping there is franchise gold in hair care for men. The husband and wife recently opened Rooster's Men Grooming Center in Simsbury.

The couple has invested "in the low six figures" to open the upscale, 1,160- square-foot barbershop that has six chairs located at Simsbury Town Shops, 926 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury. The franchise investment fee was $38,500 with the rest of the funds going toward preparing the Hopmeadow Street storefront for its grand opening on Feb. 26.

Men's hair appealed to the couple because it allowed Aaron Cramer to maintain his career with a Hartford-area insurance company. He has no direct experience as a barber and won't be cutting hair. "Donna won't even let me hold a pair of scissors," Cramer said.

"This is a semi-absentee investment model with each location having its own manager," said company president Aaron Grondin.

The Cramers looked at 50 to 60 locations before settling on Simsbury. The commercial market may be good for pricing but it doesn't mean quality space is available, they said.

As Grondin explained, new retail space isn't being built, which means prime tenants aren't relocating to higher-traffic areas. Also, businesses may vacate locations, creating the appearance of vacancies, but still be locked into leases.

The Rooster's Men Grooming Center clientele is entirely male with a demographic of 25 to 65, according to Grondin. "This is what the barbershop would be if they had progressed beyond the unisex phase when barbers virtually disappeared," explained Grondin.

The company, based in Warren, Mich., is in the midst of rapid expansion. Grondin said there are 26 franchise shops spread among 15 states with plans to have 70 opened by the end of the year and 100 more beyond that in 2012. The closest Rooster's Men Grooming Center is in North Carolina but the company is focusing on the Northeast for expansion.

The local shop is relying on traditional male-centric advertising like ESPN-1410 Radio. It's also targeting females — who influence where men get their hair cut — via 105.9 The River and direct mail pieces in Farmington Valley.

The Rooster's Men Grooming Center is staffed by five full-time employees and one part-time staff person. All of its employees are on salary with none of the chair rental arrangements common in hair salons.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Haircuts are $25 for men, $21 for uniform personnel like firefighters, military and police officers and $15 for boys. Appointments are taken but not necessary. For more information, call (860)-217-1621.

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Savers opens in Bristol

Savers, a national thrift retailer, opened a new store in Bristol on Thursday Mar. 3 — the seventh store in the state.

The grand opening festivities kicked off with an exclusive fashion show preview event on March 2 that benefited the store's non-profit partner, Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The store is located at 657 Farmington Ave. in Bristol.

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Farm supply giant opens

A new Tractor Supply Company store opened in Farmington on Feb. 26. It is the largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain in the United States and has been operating in Connecticut since 2004.

The store is located in the former Franks Nursery & Crafts space at 361 Scott Swamp Road, and has 23,100 square feet, including a sales floor and support service space. A fenced exterior space offers a display area for items such as fencing, sprayers and livestock equipment.

The store employs 18 full- and part-time team members

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