MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Passing the torch at Sam’s Beauty Supply in Grass Valley
Sam’s Beauty Supply & Salon
1043 Sutton Way, Grass Valley (near CVS)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon. through Sat.; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays.
By the time Sam Whittle opened her first beauty supply store in Grass Valley, she already had a reputation as a top-notch hairstylist and beauty supply expert, plus she was known for her impeccable customer service.
In fact, the very first day she opened Sam’s Beauty Supply & Salon in 1996, she turned a profit — practically unheard of in the retail industry.
After working for many years as a hairstylist in the Bay Area, Sam went to work for two beauty supply stores in Grass Valley before deciding to branch out on her own. One day she happened see a “for lease” sign in an empty dress shop near what is now CVS on Sutton Way.
“I went home and told my husband LeRoy that I found something for him to invest in,” said Sam.
“What?” he asked.
“Me,” she said.
TWO DECADES OF SUCCESS
In addition to her goal of selling professional beauty supplies and creating a salon inside her new business, Sam had always dreamed of opening a wig shop. Having lost close friends and family members to cancer, her wigs, she said, would be a way to reach out and lovingly assist those facing the devastating disease. As a result, she added a separate room solely devoted to wigs.
In 1998, Sam opened a second location, Sam’s II, off McKnight Way in Grass Valley, which also ran successfully until the rent became exorbitantly high. It closed in 2017.
The services, supplies and quality customer service at the store have proven to be a winning combination for over 20 years. But now Sam, who seems to defy her age of 79, has decided to slow down and pass the torch.
As of Nov. 1, the new official owners of Sam’s Beauty Supply & Salon are Theresa and Jamie Bourget. Theresa had spent many years working at Sam’s, then opened her own hair salon, Theresa B’s, in 2016. But the opportunity to buy Sam’s was too good to pass up, she said.
“Teresa has always had a good reputation,” said Sam. “She’s intelligent and kind — and so is her husband. When I heard they were interested, I knew selling the business to them would be a good decision.”
“I’ve always loved the way people are made to feel welcome at the store,” said Theresa. “We hear that over and over.”
SAME NAME, SAME EXPECTATIONS
Not much in terms of the business model will change, added Theresa. The name will not change and the family atmosphere will stay the same. Inventory will continue to include wigs, hairpieces, hair repair products, nail and skin care products, mirrors, combs, brushes, hair appliances, hair color, products for perms, jewelry and other beauty accessories.
Wigs made from human hair can be special ordered, and Theresa has extensive experience in styling wigs of all kinds. To her parents’ delight, the Bourgets’ daughter, Paige, a newly licensed cosmetologist, now has her own station inside the salon.
Both Sam and Theresa say they are also deeply grateful for their husbands, who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes doing repairs, carrying boxes, helping with the books and simply being on call when needed.
“I put this place together from scratch,” said LeRoy. “When we got here it was a dress store without a bathroom.”
These days, Sam says she comes in occasionally if Theresa or the staff have questions, or simply “just to give the girls a hug.”
“LeRoy and I believe we sold our business to the two perfect people,” she said. “We would never have sold it to people we didn’t know and trust. This was our first child together, our labor of love.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
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