Kevin Casteel examines some of his wigs for sale. Photo by: John Dorroh/Dispatch Correspondent
February 18, 2010 11:27:00 AM
My friends who moved to Columbus several years ago used to get a chuckle about the manner in which local businesses occasionally combine their efforts and share a store space. A case in point is Bryan Records and Pets on Highway 182 in mid-city Columbus. How such a weird combination became successful is another story.
I suppose my friends have acclimated to Taco Bells and Subways sharing the premises with convenience stores that sell coffee, wings, Rolaids, and gasoline.
Another strange combination is furniture and hair care products. Yep, sofas and extensions.
Change of plans
Kevin Casteel, owner of Life Style Beauty Supplies, in downtown Eupora, has sold vacuum cleaners, furniture and hair care products.
"I always thought as a kid that I would be a banker," he said.
That never panned out for Casteel. Instead, he sold vacuum cleaners for a while and then went to work for Heilig-Myers for eight years.
"In 1996 I opened my first beauty supply store in the Atlanta area," he said. Actually, it was one of those combination businesses, but one that might make more sense to my friends who laugh at such combos.
"My fiancée ran the beauty parlor, which was in the front of the store, and I ran the beauty supply portion, which was in the back. Unfortunately, we broke up a week before the grand opening."
In 1997, Casteel left the hair care business and began working for a chain of rental furniture stores.
"I functioned as an in-store problem solver," he said.
Because of the nature of his job, Casteel had to move quite often. He left Atlanta for Tallahassee, Fla., then to Pensacola, Fort Walton, and about 10 other cities.
Perhaps the constant relocation caused Casteel to change professions once again. This time he was in commercial sales for Orkin, the national insect extermination company.
"That was in Charlotte, N.C., in 2000," he said, scratching his chin.
In 2002 he moved back into the furniture business and eventually settled in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he worked for Spiller Furniture. In October 2006, he migrated to Starkville, selling the same type of products that he had sold earlier in Atlanta, but now with purses, shoes, and other accessories.
"Here in Eupora we cater mainly to the African-American population, selling weaves, wigs, extensions (tracks), lotions, creams, shampoos, eyelashes, jewelry, perfumes and other hair-care products," said Casteel.
When asked who buys extensions, Casteel said, "Individuals who have short hair who want it to be long. The extensions might be made of real human hair or synthetic materials. They can be glued, sewn, or pinned in. There are products that are used to remove the glue."
Casteel explained the biggest obstacle with his business is day-to-day receivables, a managerial issue involving extending credit "and collecting," he said.
"But, on the other hand, I can help people make decisions which make them happy."
Shoppers like perks, and Casteel rewards his regular customers two ways.
"I offer a Shopper Reward card. The first time a shopper makes a purchase, she or he receives a gift card for 10 percent off of whatever they spent," he explained. "After 10 visits they receive another 10 percent of what their total was for the 10 visits."
Casteel also has a drawing each month for a $50 gift card.
Casteel does not sell furniture or vacuum cleaners in his shop, but with his background it would not surprise me at all if he did.
Life Style Beauty Supply is located in downtown Eupora on West Fox Street.
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch.
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