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Originally published September 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 12, 2008 at 8:42 AM

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Retail Report

Wax Bar offers beer, then a wax

The Wax Bar in Ballard, a skin-care salon, sells beer to customers while they wait for a facial or body wax.

Seattle Times business reporters

On the last Friday of every month, just before 5 p.m., physical therapist Rani Linarelli stops by the Wax Bar in Ballard. She sips a $3 Belgian beer and flips through celebrity magazines while waiting for her name to be called.

Not your typical happy-hour hangout, the Wax Bar claims to be Seattle's only skin-care salon with a license to sell beer. It's a meaningful distinction to Linarelli, 31, who gets a monthly Brazilian bikini wax, a painful procedure made slightly less painful by beer.

"It soothes the nervous system," she says.

Karen Jahn, a 31-year-old aesthetician and mother-to-be, opened the Wax Bar last fall with her accountant husband, Mac. She had spent the previous decade working at Ballard's Habitude salon, noting that customers occasionally mentioned that an alcoholic beverage might take the edge off a facial or body wax.

To start, Jahn cashed in her 401(k) and obtained a snack-bar license from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, allowing her to sell beer (but not wine) under the Wax Bar name. She chose as her slogan "Relax and Get Waxed."

Although some salons offer customers an alcoholic beverage, they're legally not allowed to unless, like Jahn, the owners have a snack bar or restaurant license, says Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.

The Wax Bar's sleek white interior seems more suited to Miami Beach than Seattle. Vertical mirrors are propped on a black floor, and potted wheatgrass plants decorate circular glass tables.

Inside three private rooms, aestheticians remove unwanted hair from just about anywhere. There's the basic eyebrow and lip wax (a combined $36), as well as the more cringe-inducing nostril ($14) or nipple ($15) wax.

The Wax Bar's singular focus on unwanted-hair removal is proof that Seattle is changing, Jahn says.

Five years ago, women typically sought waxing services, she says, because they were about to go on vacation or had begun dating someone new. Now, she says, many consider waxing part of their routine.

"There's no such thing as busy or slow. It's just consistently busy," she said. "People come in every four weeks, and they don't miss a beat. They pre-book before they leave."

— Amy Martinez

Tidbits

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Tougo Coffee in the Central Area of Seattle will expand its children's play area this fall, and owner Brian Wells will open his photo studio next door to the coffee shop. An experienced photographer who has done studio work at home until now, Wells accompanied Caffé Vita on a recent trip to Ethiopia to document the trip. — MA

The Drum Exchange, which sells new and used percussion gear, has reopened on Interlake Avenue North in Wallingford after a remodeling project that gives it twice as much space as before. A reopening celebration with live music will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 27. — AM

Trendy Swedish retailer H&M opens its second Seattle-area store today at University Village. The first opened at Westfield Southcenter in July. A third opens Thursday in downtown Seattle. — AM

Starbucks and Kraft Foods will begin selling prepackaged Starbucks coffee in Switzerland this month. Starbucks has more than 40 stores in Switzerland. It sells prepackaged coffee with Kraft in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. — MA

PeaceTags, a jewelry line started last year by Fredda Goldfarb, has joined with the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation to raise money for its Beacon Hill development, which opened this week. The development has room for 42 family members of military veterans undergoing treatment at the VA Puget Sound medical center. A quarter of the proceeds from PeaceTags sold today at Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler in downtown Seattle will go to the new Fisher House.

Fredda Goldfarb, whose late father, Larry Golden, was a World War II veteran, is married to Steven Goldfarb, president of Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler. PeaceTags are sterling-silver "dog tag" necklaces engraved with quotes from peace advocates, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They sell for $129.95. — AM

The Landing in Renton will get three new restaurants before the winter holidays: The Rock, which serves wood-fired pizza amid a classic-rock theme; Izakaya Sushi; and Papaya Vietnamese Cuisine. Element Salon and Spa and Massage Envy will open at the 46-acre mixed-use development later this fall, followed by Emerald City Sun early next year. — AM

Baristas will compete in latte art championships this weekend at Coffee Fest Seattle in the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. The seventh annual competition includes 40 baristas in preliminary rounds at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with 10 finalists competing at 9 a.m. Sunday for the $5,000 first prize. — MA

Salmon Bay Events, organizer of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, will make environmental sustainability a major focus for 2009. Next year's show, Feb. 18-22 in Seattle, will have the theme "Sustainable Spaces. Beautiful Places," Salmon Bay revealed last week. — AM

A festival of local food will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at University Heights Center, 5031 University Way N.E., followed by a local foods dinner. Called Eat Local Now! A Hands-On Festival, it is sponsored by several organizations led by BALLE Seattle, the Seattle arm of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Sponsors suggest a donation of $15 for the afternoon event; dinner costs $25 to $30. — MA

Starbucks stores began giving away "Good Sheets" on Thursday as part of a partnership with the magazine Good, in an effort to generate conversation about issues in a nonpartisan way as the November election approaches. The first sheet is about carbon emissions. It features a graphic showing U.S. carbon emissions and what people can do about them, including taking public transportation and recycling. — MA

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to mallison@seattletimes.com or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

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