Jaffrey’s downtown rebounds with new businesses

As a young girl, Temple native Samantha Fisk remembers cutting and styling the hair on her Barbie dolls, dreaming of the day that she would own a hair salon of her own.

“I knew when I was little that I wanted to do hair,” Fisk said in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Monday. “My grandmother was a cosmetologist and for a time owned Gentlemen’s Choice in Peterborough. It runs in the family.”

Fisk, who now lives in Peterborough, worked for the past five years as a barber at Gentlemen’s Choice where she said she was able to build a strong clientele and sharpen her barbering skills. Fisk earned her cosmetology degree from The Continental School of Cosmetology in Hudson and most recently became a master barber after attending the New England School of Barbering in Concord.

“I really wanted to bring the old fashion-style of barbering back. That was my main goal all along,” Fisk said.

Just a few weeks ago Fisk’s childhood dream came true; the former location of Johannsen’s Barber Shop at 29 Main St., and most recently Mindfull Books and Ephemera, is now home to Fisk’s first barber business, Fine Cuts Barber Shop. The shop, which opened on Feb. 2, is unique in that it offers straight razor shaves, hot lather shaves, fades — a style of haircut for men — and haircuts for the whole family, Fisk said.

“It’s a really kid-friendly place and a barbershop where dads can bring their sons,” she said. “I enjoy talking with everyone, meeting new people and hearing their stories. I like making people feel good about themselves.”

Mindfull Books and Ephemera, which sold used books, ephemera, art and other collectibles, closed in January after nearly seven years of business at the location now occupied by Fine Cuts. An economic downturn paired with low turnout from the Monadnock region’s shoppers had made staying open difficult, owner John Sepe told the Ledger-Transcript in December. Sepe’s decision to close his bookstore came around the same time that Merry Berry Frozen Yogurt and Cafe moved its business out of Jaffrey’s downtown and Elaine’s Antiques and Collectibles announced its closure.

The past few months have been a time of great transition for Jaffrey, said Director of TEAM Jaffrey Marie Cassady, but the future is looking positive. The town is rebounding with new entrepreneurs making a fresh start in windowfront shops left behind by their prior owners, she said.

In addition to Fine Cuts, Keene-based restaurant and entertainment lounge, Lab’n Lager, opened at 4 Stratton Rd. this month and The Melamine Cup, which sells mid-century modern decor, opened its doors on Jan. 5 at 45 Knight St.

Jaffrey resident Jim Davis told the Ledger-Transcript on Monday that his computer service and repair business, Jaffrey Computer, opened just a few weeks ago at 6 River St. and that the response from the community has surpassed his expectations.

“I should have done it years ago,” Davis said. “It is the perfect location and central to a larger market not being served.”

For years, Davis said he has commuted throughout New England to perform in-house computer repairs for a number of big computer manufacturers. But with rising gas prices, he said that type of business is on the decline with brick-and-mortar repair shops becoming the new norm.

“We are primarily a repair company dealing with software and hardware and we’ve recently expanded to some of the Apple products like the iPad,” Davis said. “We charge $65 per call for most calls, but that does depend on the service, too.”

Jaffrey Computer fills a needed gap in Jaffrey’s downtown, Cassady said: “Computers are a vital part of our everyday lives and, when yours goes down, you want easy, quick help.”

Since news of longtime businesses leaving Jaffrey hit the community, Cassady said she’s seen a renewed interest among people who are shopping locally to support their own.

“Of the good things to come out of the recession is that people are being more thoughtful about their spending, and the days of conspicuous consumerism seem to be over,” Cassady said. “People are also distressed to see friends and neighbors losing their businesses.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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