BLOWN AWAY: Drybar expands to Tempe despite continuing difficulty filling positions  

Amy Ross has built a small empire with her six Drybar blow-dry bars in the Valley, including her newest in Tempe. However, a shortage of employees is slowing her comeback from a difficult COVID-19 setback. – Photo courtesy of Amy Ross

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Admittedly, 2020 was a financial disaster for Amy Ross, who owns a half-dozen Drybars, premier blow-dry bars, around the Valley, including her latest that opened Nov. 12 at The Watermark, 410 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 111 in Tempe.

“We were closed four months in 2020,” Ross said. “We did have to close again in July. So we were down over 50 percent for the year.”

Now, the supply-chain bottleneck and The Great Resignation are thwarting her businesses once again. She currently has 50 openings throughout her organization, which includes the six shops and a regional call center, where there are five employees in a facility designed for 12.

“Like yesterday, one of my managers had four call-center interviews set up, and she had confirmed them all,” Ross said. “Not one of them showed up. It’s the lack of consideration for people’s time.

The line of professional hair-styling products and tools at Drybar in Tempe are created for the perfect blowout. –Photo courtesy of Drybar

“We would be blowing away our 2019 numbers, which was our best year ever, and we’ve been in the Valley over 10 years, had it not been for this situation with employment right now.”

And product? Good luck with that.

“There are a lot of products that we are having a hard time getting,” said Ross, 51. “Things that we usually have in larger sizes that we use on clients we are having to use retail versions of it now at elevated costs because we are not able to get some of these larger sizes. For example, a larger size shampoo that may cost me $15 for 32 ounces we’re now using 12-ounce retail versions that which cost me the same thing.”

She was forced to increase pricing by $4, her first hike in five years, she says.

“That, I can figure out because there is light at the end of that tunnel with supplies and we’ll start seeing things coming back into stock. It’s the employment piece that is our snafu right now.”

So there couldn’t be a more perfect time to expand a business, right?

“Well,” Ross said, chuckling, “they say opportunity presents itself at the craziest times.

“There were many days I cried sitting at my desk, to be very honest with you, in 2020. Then my broker reached out to me and said there’s this landlord in Tempe who is really interested and thinks Drybar would be great mix at the Watermark, which is right on Town Lake.”

She knew that neck of the woods.

“There may or may not have been a bar at that site that I frequented while I was at ASU,” Ross said. “Club Rio had two-for-one on Fridays before 5 p.m.

“This opportunity that the landlord kind of presented to us was one of those that’s too good to be true. Our Watermark shop is definitely taking off, doing great. Had it not been for the wherewithal of the landlord to make us a deal we couldn’t refuse, to be very candid, we wouldn’t have done it, but he saw value in the brand.”

According to Amy Ross, the average Drybar, like her new one in The Watermark in Tempe, can bring about 500 women a week into a shopping center. — Photo courtesy of Drybar

According to Ross, an average Drybar can bring about 500 women a week into a shopping center.

“He saw the upside,” she said. “It’s a good financial arrangement for both of us.”

Walk into the new 1,400-square-foot Tempe shop, which specializes in just blowouts, no cuts or colors, and customers can’t miss the eight custom Italian styling chairs, tufted fabric walls, marble bars with built-in phone-docking stations and flat-screen TVs featuring cult-favorite chick flicks.

At the core of every Drybar shop is the mission to help women love their hair, dedication to over-the-top customer service and obsessive attention to every detail.

The Watermark shop is no exception. It offers the brand’s signature services.

  • Full style menu: With all styles always available, guests may choose from an extensive menu of options that include The Straight Up, The Manhattan, The Cosmo, Dirty Martini, Mai Tai or The Southern Comfort.
  • Signature in-shop services: These are the Classic Blowout, Uptini (aka an updo), Shirley Temple (special service available for ages 10 and younger) and Add-A-Braid, as well as styling for weddings, group specials, and parties.
  • Line of professional hair-styling products and tools: Aptly named in keeping with the pervasive bar theme, all products are created for the perfect blowout and include favorites like The Double Shot Oval Blow-Dryer Brush, Cure Liqueur Shampoo and Conditioner, Detox Dry Shampoo.

“What’s great is now, between the population boom in Arizona and people just being tired of being at home, we are seeing people going out, people wanting to feel good about themselves, so we have a lot of demand,” Ross said. “When we first reopened in May of 2020, I was asking a customer, ‘How have you been? What’s going on? Are you going somewhere today?’

“She said to me, ‘Amy, I just want a place I can go where I feel welcome. I leave here feeling great and it’s a great experience. I’m not going anywhere tonight, but it makes me feel good.’ In the end, that’s something about Drybar that we love. That’s why we are doing blowouts. It’s really about happiness and confidence.”

Appointments can be booked at 480-877-1010 or online through the Drybar iPhone or Android apps.

More information: drybarshops.com.

 

Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell became a journalist because he didn’t become a rocket scientist! He exhausted the math courses available by his junior year in high school and earned early admission to Rice University, intending to take advantage of its relationship with the Johnson Space Center and become an aerospace engineer. But as a high school senior, needing a class to be eligible for sports with no more math available, he took student newspaper as a credit and was hooked. He studied journalism at the UofA and has been senior reporter, copy desk chief and managing editor at several Valley publications.

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