Downtown salon’s 28-year run comes to an end today

A labor of love for nearly three decades in downtown Grand Haven, Susan French is closing the doors of her Grand Haven hair salon for good. French said she's owned Harbor Hair Designers at 129 Washington Ave. for 28 years, and has cut and styled hair at the location for 32 years.
Alex Doty
Feb 10, 2012

The salon’s official last day is today.

“For a long time, my car only knew one direction,” said French, who lives in Grand Haven Township with her husband and children.

French said with contributing factors such as the economy and her diagnosis of breast cancer, she felt it was time to call it a career in the hair business.

“It is a God thing,” she said. “He told me that this is it.”

The biggest thing that will be missed, French said, is the camaraderie she has had with customers and the people she has worked with.

“You make such good friends with the clients you have had for so long,” she said.

Rick Parks, who said he’s been a customer of French for the past 30 years, said he will miss going to the downtown business for haircuts.

“I always enjoyed coming here and seeing them,” Parks said. “I’ve always gotten perfect haircuts.”

Additionally, being a staple business on Washington Avenue, French said she will miss being downtown.

“My neighbors downtown here have been wonderful,” she said. “That kind of stuff you’re going to miss.”

Recently diagnosed with breast cancer, the retirement will also allow French time to focus on family — including her children, ages 9 and 11.

“I had my business for 21 years before I had kids,” French said. “My whole life was this.”

Instead of spending the night looking at financial books, French said she can now focus on games, school activities and sporting events.

The salon’s staff said they will also miss working at the place they called home for many years.

Kitty Bazany, who had worked downtown for 45 years as a stylist, said it was a bittersweet event to see the salon’s run come to a close.

“It has been wonderful to work with Susan and the girls,” she said.

Being downtown for more than four decades, Bazany said she saw many things come and go in Grand Haven, and the landscape of downtown transform.

Stylist Paula Rodgers, who worked downtown for 22 years, also said leaving the salon would be a bittersweet experience for her.

“I am going to miss the clients and my colleagues,” she said, “but I am going to enjoy some free time, too.”

That includes more time with family, and camping and spending time on property “up north.”

Although the salon is moving out, French said the building will be put to new use. Solia, a women’s clothing boutique, will be moving from 119 Washington Ave.

“At signing day, I said I hoped the building is as good to you as it was to me,” French said.

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