Significant change is underway at Robert James Salon, a downtown Riverhead business that’s been an East Main Street institution since 2005.
In addition to relocating late last month to a smaller, industrial-looking space in the former Woolworth Building, the salon now has a new owner. Head stylist Lisa Pickersgill, 42, took over the business from her father, Ray, about three weeks ago.
“She was always my business partner, but now I’m going on to other things,” said Mr. Pickersgill, 67. “I was always in sales and I want to get back into sales.”
Before opening Robert James Salon, Mr. Pickersgill, who lives in Nesconset with his wife, Margaret, was sales manager at Ram Chevrolet in Port Jefferson. He also owned auto body and wrecking shops in Babylon.
“He’s definitely been an asset to our business and I think he will continue to be an asset to our business,” said Lisa Pickersgill, who has been a hairstylist since 1987.
Despite plans to step away from the salon, Mr. Pickersgill said that, for now, he will remain a presence at the business, which opened its new 2,100-square-foot location Feb. 23. He said he will also stay on as president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District until he “can be replaced.”
“I’m not going to abandon them, but I will be backing away from that,” said Mr. Pickersgill, whose yearly term expires in June. “I’ve spent the last six years working with [the organization] and I think it’s time to move on.”
Regarding the decision to relocate Robert James Salon from 49 East Main St., Mr. Pickersgill said, “The rent was too high for the space we really needed.”
“There was a time before the recession when we used 6,500 square feet, but after the recession, our business cut down to a quarter of what we were doing,” he said, adding that the space is now being listed for roughly $8,500 a month.
The salon’s new location, where neighbors include Maximus Health and Fitness and Goldberg’s Famous Bagels, features a painted cement floor, exposed beams and a black ceiling. It has 10 styling stations, all of which benefit from the natural light that floods in through the building’s glass storefront.
“It’s nice because it’s sunny and bright,” said Margaret Pickersgill, the salon’s bookkeeper. “You can see Main Street instead of seeing parked cars.”
“It’s fresh,” her daughter added. “It’s kind of like what’s more upscale today. All of our customers like it better.”
Those clients include Diane Sherman of Riverhead, who has visited the salon every four weeks for the past six years.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s right in the middle of what’s going on downtown. It’s great to see the old Woolworth Building becoming many different little businesses.
“For so long, there were so many empty stores,” she continued. “I think it’s nice for them to be in the hub of what’s going on.”