chop shop hair co.
Ask Daniel Hudon and Michael Procter what they think of reality TV shows and the response is practically vitriolic. “I don’t watch them; I don’t appreciate them,” declares Procter. So why did the owners of rock-and-roll hair salon Chop Shop Hair Co. Inc. agree to front one on national TV?
“You’d be stupid not to,” Hudon chimes in. That irreverence coupled with the shop’s anti-salon atmosphere – think pin-up girls on the walls and a hot rod for a front desk – is precisely what drew Lawrence McDonald into the Granville Street salon three years ago. The independent TV producer was walking by one night and caught a glimpse of various personalities at play. McDonald immediately saw potential in the shop’s cast of counter-culture characters and pitched the concept to Vancouver-based Paperny Films. In February, Chop Shop began airing on Slice Network.
“We came kind of full circle,” explains Procter, who keeps a low on-air profile while Hudon plays up the boss-man angle. In each of the 13 30-minute episodes, Hudon is front and centre as the de facto star, dealing with the challenges (real or exaggerated) of running a small business. A rotating clan of strong-willed stylists keeps the drama going with stories of their breakups, make-ups, hirings and firings.
Since the show’s launch, Chop Shop has seen an 18 per cent increase in customer traffic and revenue, says the salon’s accountant and numbers guru Rick Momsen. What’s better, he adds, it virtually eliminated the need for marketing, saving roughly $2,000 a month, and boosted the prospects of two new locations that opened this year, one in Langley, the other on Commercial Drive. “We made that happen,” Momsen says. “But I do think when approaching investors, having a reality show certainly gives you that added boost to credibility.” With plans to franchise nationally, Hudon speculates the show has netted them millions in free advertising.
That sort of national exposure is undoubtedly enticing. At least one other West Coast business is already en route to reality-TV land: The Cupcake Girls, featuring North Vancouver’s Lori Joyce and Heather White and their six Cupcakes franchises, is destined for the W Network this January. And while Hudon admits some of his regular clients were turned off by all the media attention, he maintains he’s kept a clear head. “We don’t claim to be the world’s greatest hairdressers; we just cut hair.”