NEW PORT RICHEY — There’s Thelma and Louise, Laverne and Shirley, and Cindy and Dottie.
The latter female duo may not be as famous, at least outside of the New Port Richey area, but like Laverne and Shirley, they’ve never heard the word impossible, they did it their way and they made their dreams come true.
Cindy Buckley and Dottie Browder are co-owners of the Main Street Salon. They’ve been cut-and-style pals for 46 years, and their story is one of friendship, partnership and a testament of the power of two heads together.
Just out of their teens, the pair met in 1972, working at a salon in New Port Richey. They were there until 1987, when they got the idea of teaming up and striking out on their own.
They worked out of their own shop on U.S. 19 for a while, but Dottie happened to be looking in downtown New Port Richey one day when a road sign with a cross on it caught her eye. Right next door was the little Main Street shop that would become home to their operation — a full service hair and nail salon, that also offers permanent makeup and old-school services like full roller sets. They also cut men’s and children’s hair. The shop is at 5810 Main St., opposite the historic Arcade building.
The two essentially grew up together — there for their marriages, births of children and grandchildren, the passing of their parents. Family camping vacations together, picnics and lots of get-togethers have marked their years, and the relationship has been rock solid the whole time.
“I think I can count on one hand the number of problems we’ve had,” said Buckley. “We just have always gotten along.”
As for their business, the pair seemed made for each other, Buckley said.
“We’re Yin and Yang,” she said. “She’s (Dottie) smart with the money and I’m smart with the other things, so it works out.”
Browder said the friendship has been effortless, though a successful business is the product of work.
“We’ve worked at it and put in a lot, but we’ve had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends,” Browder said. “We both love people and we’ve had some customers for 40 years now.”
To this day the couple puts in long hours, something that’s become an even greater sacrifice since they both moved their families farther from New Port Richey — Buckley to Gibsonton and Browder to Homosassa. Nevertheless, it’s not unusual for them to be in the shop at daylight and back home around bedtime. Adding to the routine at the shop is working on location at weddings and parties.
“We try to take care of our customers,” said Buckley.
For a time, Buckley’s daughter worked at the shop, but moved on. Browder’s daughter works in the shop as a nail technician. Everyone works to meet the needs of a “very loyal clientele and to ensure the shop stays up on the latest in style trends, said Buckley.
“I stay fresh and go to hair shows and stay up with the latest (style trends and techniques) on YouTube,” said Buckley.
The Main Street location has worked out great, both say, and the shop is active in downtown events and promotions. They say the strongest attribute of their business is it’s “home-town” feel. The shop is always decorated for holidays, and specialty and theme parties are hosted there routinely.
The two are showing no signs of slowing down, though they admit their husbands, both retired, do pressure them to think about retiring. Buckley says no way. Browder may not be quite as sure, but neither has time to think about it now. It’s fall and the “snowbirds are back soon,” said Browder, and there will be lots of clients making appointments.
“We’re really blessed in a lot of ways,” Browder said, adding that she feels fate has played a part in the business and friendship she and Buckley have built together.