Boonville shop owners of a strip of storefronts have seized the opportunity of recent changes to the self-named “East Ashley Road Plaza” by working together to help each other be successful.
The strip of entrepreneurs in the 400 block of East Ashley Road is “booming,” said Phyllis Martin, who has owned Hair Play Salon on the plaza for several years, and recently expanded into a beauty supply store. Hair Play, Wicked Asian Wings and Show-Me Insurance Gallery have each opened or made significant changes to their businesses within the last year. Nail Boss opened on the strip just two years ago.
The shop owners assist one another. After Martin works with a client, she’ll usually send them over to the insurance gallery’s surplus store and other area businesses to check out the deals.
A lot of traffic goes down Ashley Road, but its more after-school traffic than shoppers. People might have missed all the changes to the unassuming strip just west of Ashley Road, Nail Boss owner Cierra Sims said.
Sims worked in two other nail salons in Columbia before she opened Nail Boss two years ago. She wanted the freedom of running her own business, and to keep what she makes instead of renting a booth or working on commission, she said. For the mother of a one-year-old, having a flexible schedule has been great, she said.
Nail Boss celebrated two years in business this Halloween. Sims said she’s kept a lot of her Columbia customers have followed her to Boonville. She also has people drive in from Jefferson City, Ashland, Glasgow and Fayette to get their nails done, she said. She works by appointment, and says she stays busy with appointments most of the time.
Wicked Asian Wings opened six weeks ago, and had a much bigger response than expected. Justin Simpson only promoted the opening with a few Facebook posts, but it happened to be Boonville’s homecoming weekend, and they ended up being busy all day, Simpson said.
The idea for a wing shop came from Simpson’s business partner, Sophal Sam. Sam had Simpson and their third partner, Nick Gant, try his homemade sauces, and they were so impressed that they decided other people needed to try them.
Boonville has been welcoming, and a great place to open their first restaurant, Simpson said. They eventually hope to expand and open stores in other cities, but now they’re focused on impressing people in Boonville. Spicy Thai and buffalo have been the most popular sauces so far, and they’ve received good reviews on the flavor, size and freshness of the made-to-order wings.
“It’s close-knit, and people are going to talk about the food, so if you’re good, it’s gonna get a great word out,” he said.
They feel like they’ve been welcomed quickly, especially by their neighbors on the strip. They come by to check in and see if they need anything, he said. The stores also send their customers each other’s way if they’re looking for a haircut, manicure, lunch or a deal.
“The cross-marketing is excellent, they pull you right in,” he said.
Show-Me Insurance Gallery has been selling insurance, mainly health and Medicare supplements, on Ashley Road since 2013, said owner Lori Loesing. The building had been vacant for a while before they moved in, she said. They were the first of the four businesses currently in the “plaza.” Martin came over from Main Street about 6 months later, she said.
A few months ago, Show-Me started selling more than insurance. Inspired by trips to Mennonite surplus stores, they thought they should put a similar store in Boonville. Now, the insurance seller is packed with everything from shirts to microwaves at discount prices.
They get a new stock about every two weeks and post what they have on Facebook. When they get popular items like power tools, they’ll sell pretty quickly. Buying surplus lots can be hit or miss, Loesing said. They have some idea of what’s in a lot when they buy it, but don’t know everything. Some stuff isn’t worth selling, but they hope to find worthwhile items in each load.