Original Published on Nov 14, 2022 at 22:14

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — A merger of Thunder Bay salons is letting the operation keep up with client demand at a time that staffing is a challenge, space is important and businesses seek stability.

Evoke Salon and Spa is making its new home in the former Pneumaticity salon in Thunder Bay’s waterfront district. Evoke owner and stylist Amanda Benincasa said her business is growing and she was running out of space. 

“When Susan Bishop, owner of Pneumaticity, was looking to retire and sell her space, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to be able to purchase that from her, which worked out beautifully because her staff was being taken care of and I was able to get a larger space down by the waterfront,” Benincasa said. The merging of the staff from the two salons will add seven Pneumaticity employees for a total of 13 Evoke staff members. 

“I feel so fortunate,” Benincasa said. “It means that we’ll be able to service more people in Thunder Bay and accommodate our clients better and it’s always exciting adding new people to your team, especially in a creative environment because you can feed off one another’s different creative styles.”

Turning the clock back a year, she remembers the struggle of the salon industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a fearful time,” she said. “There was so much uncertainty and not really knowing if your business was going to make it through and if it did, what was that going to look like on the other side? Fortunately, we have such a supportive community here in Thunder Bay.”

She said the moment they were able to open, they had full support of her clients, many of whom purchased gift cards and ordered hair care products during the shutdown.

“It feels like a lifetime ago right now,” she said.

“That also made me realize if, given the opportunity to own my own space, I was going to definitely take advantage of that. I was currently leasing and the landlords were wonderful, but it occurred to me that if the business failed, I walked away with nothing.”

Benincasa said they didn’t have enough staff to accommodate everyone and were hindered from performing many services. 

“Where we could only do one pedicure or manicure at a time, now we can do them side by side,” she said, noting that a trained esthetician is also on staff for skincare services. 

“We have many new services and a better ability to perform them just by virtue of having more space and more people.”

With more than 25 years in the industry, Benincasa has established a good client base which she hopes will expand with the merging of the two salons.

As November began, Benincasa was set to open the doors to Evoke Salon and Spa.

Apart from some painting, new fixtures, furnishings and the addition of her equipment, Benincasa says there’s really not going to be a lot of change to the salon at the South Cumberland Street location. At 2,600 square feet, it is almost double the size of her former location.

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario

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