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A wig for all occasions

When Sam Whittle envisioned starting a side business mostly serving cancer patients 10 years ago, she feared she and her customers would cry while browsing for a wig.

Much to her surprise, the cancer patients who visit Designer Wig Gallery, at 1043 Sutton Way in Grass Valley, have more fun than she ever expected.

“We have a good time,” Whittle said. “They are an interesting group of ladies, because they all have a good sense of humor.”



Many come in with their girlfriends and joke about what they’re going to do with their new look, she said.

Cancer has been a large part of Whittle’s life after losing her mother, a brother and other relatives to the disease. Her husband, LeRoy, is a prostate cancer survivor.




Her wig gallery is within Whittle’s larger business of Sam’s Beauty Supply/Salon.

“I wouldn’t want it to not be part of my life,” said Whittle, who added she was between 65 and 70 years old.

Maureen Harris, 67, of Alta Sierra, a four-year breast cancer survivor, imagines taking a different tact if Whittle’s wig store weren’t available.

“I could’ve worn a football on my head, for all I cared,” Harris said.

Harris was in “a fog” the day after her hair fell out, so her husband, Keith, and Whittle helped her find an appropriate wig, she said.

When Harris and other cancer patients find what they are looking for, they typically get a wig at 20 percent off the retail price, Whittle said.

All 25 wig styles Harris sells are made of synthetic material, which requires little maintenance, Whittle said.

“Just shake it up, like it’s the neighbor’s dog,” and it’s ready for use, Whittle said.

While cancer patients make up 95 percent of Whittle’s customers, there is another sector with their own unique focus.

“I have one cocktail waitress who gets a blonde wig in order to get more tips,” Whittle said.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion.com or call 477-4234.


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