I live in a town with approximately 50,000 inhabitants which, according to yellow pages, has no fewer than 78 hairdressers. That’s one per 641 people. Of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story. It excludes many of those who do hair at your home, particularly popular in a region with an aging population and plenty of retirement homes. It also excludes barbers and men’s hairdressing salons of which there are still quite a few. So it’s probably closer to one per 500. Salons vary in size but, on average, let’s say they have five employees, so that’s one hairdresser per 100 of the population.
You might be wondering where I’m going with this, but bear with me. Okay, so I’m a hairdresser with 100 clients. Based on a 5-day working week, I work 200 days a year and on average my clients come to the salon 20 times times per annum. So I’m seeing 10 clients per day who pay on average 20 euros per hour making 40,000 euros per annum which I split 50:50 with the salon. The figures kinda stack up.
Now, you’re going to say 10 per day’s too many. But many salons in France don’t require bookings, you just rock up and whoever’s available does your hair. Take my beloved, who has his hair cut once a month. It costs 10 euros for a wash and cut which takes just 15 minutes! The stylist/hairdresser will both wash, cut and dry my husband’s hair in that time and generally give his unruly eyebrows a quick trim too. Yes, they’re quick. It’s a numbers game and the name of the game is “Volume”.
In London a cut, colour and blow-dry in a Mayfair salon would cost me the GDP of a small African nation and take up to four hours. Here it takes under two hours, including a head massage, for a fraction of the price. Today’s Friday and the early morning bus from the Domaine will be choc full of elderly ladies heading for a their weekly wash and set. These ladies also all have coloured hair so their roots will need re-touching at least once a month. Most will also have a manicure and suddenly you understand why there’s so many poodle parlours, as my beloved calls them, in France.
A new chain/franchise has sprung up recently called “Oops Coiffure”. Yes, I know, you’re thinking what bright spark came up with that name? However, it’s catchy purple and pink girlie decor and low-price point seem to have made an impression. Business is booming. The salon is on a prominent corner – location, location, location – and every time I have gone past the shop window, the place has been teeming. I have not however been tempted across its threshold. Particularly not after I saw this photo on their Facebook page – Oops indeed!
Because most salons offer this “no need to book” philosophy, it’s difficult to get recommendations. In fact most of my French friends are what I would call “hair sluts” having no allegiance to any one hairdresser or even one salon which, on the one hand, kinda blows my theory above out of the water while explaining the highly competitive nature of this lucrative business. Finally, I have a reliable recommendation to replace my previous hairdresser who returned home lovelorn to Lille. However, the new one will do your hair at home for half the price of that charged by the salon where she works, further substantiating my pricing theory. I shall be giving her a call soon.