Inside the Wild Strawberry Salon and Day Spa in Waterbury, every chair was filled as hairdressers cut, colored and styled the hair of their customers. Trish Mauriello bundled up to leave the warmth of the busy salon and brave the frigid air after a recent monthly visit.
Mauriello, 60, of Watertown, is one of many in the area who don't plan to let their beauty rituals become victims of the struggling economy.
"There are other things that I would eliminate before I eliminate this," Mauriello said.
That's not the case in Greenwich. Day spa and salon owners in one of the nation's wealthiest towns say the recession is taking its toll and are reporting declines in business by as much as 70 percent. However, spas and salons in Greater Waterbury and Litchfield County are reporting business as usual.
Robert Accetura, owner of the Wild Strawberry, described his business as "very steadfast." He said the holiday season brought in a large increase of new clients and overall the salon is experiencing a "really good season."
"There are a few customers that instead of coming every four weeks come every five or six, or instead of six, are stretching it to seven or eight, but they're a minority," Accetura said.
Accetura attributes his loyal customers, like Mauriello, who said she has been going to Accetura for 30 years, to his experienced, personable and service-oriented employees.
"If we can continue giving that even in the bad economy, we will be successful," Accetura said.
JoAnn Cantele, owner of Shear Dimensions in Torrington, also said some of her customers are waiting longer between visits, but haven't stopped coming. Cantele, who has been in business for almost 24 years, said she anticipated economic problems about a year ago and started preparing for them by changing some of the products she uses to lower her costs.
"It made my business run more economically so I was able to not raise prices for clients," Cantele said.
At Tres Jolie Day Spa in Southbury, owner Jeff Krizan said he guessed his spa was less impacted by the recession because of its location in the Heritage Hotel Resort and Conference Center.
Krizan said as long as the hotel business continues, he thinks his business will remain successful, but he doesn't expect substantial growth in 2009.
"Even though there's an economic downturn, there's a significant amount of stress our corporate friends and neighbors are experiencing," Krizan said. "What better way to escape that, what better way to rehabilitate yourself."
Ailyn Urzua-Geghan, owner of Ecolife and Spa Care in Watertown, also has managed to avoid recessionary effects.
"I am fortunate to say that our client base has been pretty steady and loyal so I haven't really seen a decline," Urzua-Geghan said.
Originally appeared 2/2/2009 in the Republican-American