Nick and Ann Van Weaver live — and now work — in the Uptown neighborhood along Wealthy Street. Courtesy Palace Flophouse
The Palace Flophouse Salon is the most recent addition to the eclectic mix of retail venues and restaurants on Wealthy Street in Uptown Grand Rapids, and owners Nick and Ann Van Weaver aim to provide quality hair care to the neighborhood they call home.
The name of the salon came from the Van Weavers’ desire to create an inclusive environment. As a self-described “book nerd,” Nick Van Weaver pitched the idea of naming the salon after a place in the John Steinbeck novel, “Cannery Row.”
In the novel, the Palace Flophouse is an old warehouse in Monterey, California, where anybody down on his or her luck can find a place to stay.
“I think a lot of what’s in there really rang true with what we want to do with this place — to just be welcoming and kind and include everybody,” he said.
The Palace Flophouse Salon is at 650 Wealthy St. SE, neighboring Dime & Regal, which opened in October 2017. The two storefronts used to be a single unit before it was gutted and separated by a dividing wall.
“We lucked out when we came in. It was just a clean white box,” Nick Van Weaver said. “We didn’t have to worry, like, is the electric OK? Is the plumbing OK?”
The newly renovated salon totals around 1,800 square feet. The layout features seven stylist stations up front and two shampoo bowls in the back.
Grand Rapids-based Honor Construction Inc. handled the renovations. Terra Firma Development in Grand Rapids is the building owner and landlord.
The styling side of the operation, Ann Van Weaver, has been a licensed cosmetologist for over 13 years, serving at various salons in the Grand Rapids area before starting her own business.
“I’ve worked at numerous salons all around town … and just came to a point in my career, and in our lives, where it was time to do it,” Ann Van Weaver said.
Her husband, who has a day job as a marketing manager for Farmers Insurance, said his best experience in the styling business is a personal affinity for “good hair.”
The couple owns a home on Wealthy Street with their two daughters, and after witnessing the rapid business growth of the area, felt the time was right to open their own enterprise in the neighborhood they’ve lived in for 10 years.
“I think this area has been through so much change, and there’s been this reclaiming period, and we’ve been a part of that in our personal lives,” Nick Van Weaver said.
The salon will carry several “clean” products, like O&M out of Australia, which markets an ammonia, PPD and resorcinol-free hair coloring formula.
“I care about what I’m working with, my stylists are working with and also what I put on my clients and put out into the community,” Ann Van Weaver said.
The salon also will carry two all-natural, California-based products, Hanz de Fuko, a men’s hair care line and Number 4, a high-end, French-inspired product line.
“We intentionally sought out products that were good for the environment … and we ended up with products we truly believe in,” Nick Van Weaver said. “Our house was kind of like a sample factory for a while.”
The couple said they have received positive feedback and support from businesses in the area anticipating their opening day.
“When somebody new comes in, they’re like, ‘Hey let me help you. Let me show you the stuff that I went through,’” Nick Van Weaver said.
Though no formal plans have been made, Palace Flophouse hopes to form collaborations with other businesses in the area, like serving Rowster Coffee to guests.
“There are so many new businesses opening up all around the same time, so it makes sense, once we do our big opening, to maybe hit up some spots,” Ann Van Weaver said. “We’ll figure out how we want to do that.”
The salon currently is hiring, with plans to staff eight full-time employees, including seven stylists and a salon manager.
The couple also listed their dog, Dutch, as the unofficial ninth “employee.”
“She’s more therapy,” Nick Van Weaver said.
Palace Flophouse opened April 3 but plans to host a grand opening celebration in June.