Amplify Salon & Spa

By on 21 March, 2016 in Kate and Stephen, Municipal business with 0 Comments

P1060783Moving from Los Angeles to Alabama meant breaking off one of my most important long-term relationships: the one with my hairdresser. Although we could still be friends, I’d have to find someone else to cut my hair. I asked her advice about how to find a new person in my new home.

“Find someone with hair like yours,” she said, “and ask them where they go.”

This seemed like it might be creepy but also pragmatic. I ended up asking a nice woman in the soup aisle of the Publix where she got her enviable curly hair done, and she directed me to a stylist at Amplify Salon in Old Cloverdale.

How you get your hair done is often a highly personal matter, tied to culture, history and a network of personal relationships. It’s partly about the kind of experience that you want to have with your barber or stylist, but also about how you see yourself — and how you choose to present yourself to the folks you encounter every day. So at the risk of weighing in on a subject that you already have intense personal feelings about, perhaps you’ll indulge me a broader contextual point.

Amplify’s a good example of the kinds of jobs and services that are critical to local economic development, but don’t get much discussion when we talk about what makes our neighborhoods desirable (and functional). You can’t outsource a massage or a pedicure, and the most expensive clothes in the world can’t dress up a bad haircut. The salon’s been an anchor to the lofts in Old Cloverdale for many years. When I was there the other day, I got to thinking about how I took it for granted, this ability to pop down the street to get a great haircut at a reasonable price. Sometimes I need to remind myself of the things I take for granted about living here – the fact that many people in our neighborhood have a “commute” to work of around ten minutes, that everyone in the neighborhood knows each other’s dogs and children, that our streets are (mostly) safe to run on.

Amplify is an unpretentious place where highly skilled folks keep Midtown from looking too scruffy. They greet you by name and settle you in with some fruit-flavored water, but there’s usually not much of a wait. Sometimes around the holidays there can be a little too much Christmas music, but usually the atmosphere is a calm hum of focused energy. One key difference between my previous salon and this one is that there’s a lot more talk about football. Otherwise, the experience is every bit as rich and relaxing as you might get in the country’s most expensive cities.

I’ve never been to Seville (another widely-praised salon), but I know it’s a cornerstone of the scene in Five Points, along with other personal service providers on the Woodley side of that development. As we think about what should go into our transitioning storefronts in Midtown and Downtown, it’s important to think about the services we already have and overlook – like Amplify, which has anchored the A&P loft development for as long as we’ve lived here. Businesses get traction and hold it when you simply can’t buy what they’re selling elsewhere – whether that’s customer service, tacos, or hand-picked clothing.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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