Hometown style: Barb’s shop

August 2012 Posted in Business, People

By Omie DrawhornBarb Rue owns Barb\'s Hair Etc. in Silverton.

For Barb Rue, hair styling is a family affair.

The owner of Barb’s Hair, Etc. grew up around salons. Her mother, Evelyn Vearrier, cut hair at the same location at 114 N. Water St. in Silverton, and always had hair salons in her home.

Barb’s daughter Tonya Rue-Perez, now works at her salon, returning home after managing a Regis salon in Janzen Beach.

Rue recalls her first “experiment” with hair growing up at her home in Scotts Mills.

“There was some bleach in the back room, and I was curious so I painted my bangs, then I went outside to play,” she said.

Her mother later noticed that her bangs had turned orange.

“We put more bleach on it to turn it blond,” Rue said laughing. “Color is fun.”

This is the 20th anniversary Rue has owned and operated the friendly, laidback salon just across from the Palace Theater.

Rue-Perez styles hair and does Hair Club for Men at the salon. Hair stylist Cambridge Allen also does nails and waxing, and Heidi Westcott is a nail technician.

Rue, 63, has customers who have been with her all 20 years, and has cut hair for generations of women: grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters.

She doesn’t see as many of the weekly “shampoo and set” customers as the early days. Her older customers are passing on, and that kind of styling isn’t as common anymore.

Now Allen said it’s not uncommon for people to request bold, unexpected colors.

When Rue came in one recent evening she found Allen preparing turquoise, purple and mahogany colors.

“They are crazy colors but they are usually subtle,” she said. “I give the customers what they want. Around here we say ‘The customer is always right.’”

Rue said she works hard to make the salon family-oriented. A baby’s first haircut is free. When Rue’s husband was alive, he would create a graphic and photo of the baby for the family to keep.

“Customers are like family to all of us,”  Rue said.

Allen said hairdressers do more than cut hair. They are “counselors and best friends” to their clients. The stylists at Barb’s are no exception.

Barb’s has also played a big role in the Homer Days Davenport Races since 2001, organizing a winning couch and team for many years.

It is “the team to beat.”

The Davenport Races, a Silverton tradition, aren’t for couch potatoes. Determined teams race down Main Street pushing modified couches on wheels toward the finish line. This year’s event is set for 1 p.m., Sunday Aug. 5.

Rue said she decided to form a team one year after someone was “egging her on.”

It soon became a tradition.

The original couch came from the Scotts Mills Fire Department. Barb’s husband redesigned the front end to included wheels and the steering that is still used today.

The couch is getting a new paint job this year, too.

Jason Franz, the owner of Fall Line Sports in Silverton, makes sure the wheels and steering are in top shape before Barb’s team of community members and employees prepare to compete for trophies.

Allen and her sister-in-law Heidi have won trophies for the fastest two-woman team.

Silverton High School alumni Luke and Kenneth Pike have lead the team to victory each year. Rue-Perez is also is an annual participant on the team.

“They are ready to kick the other couches out of the way,” Rue said with a laugh adding she doesn’t normally participate in the races. “I did it one year and thought I was dying.”

Rue’s involvement in the race reflects the community-oriented business she makes it a point to run: a place where whoever walks in the door feels at home.

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