Local business owners make a comeback after devastation


Kjersti McDonald/The Chart

Glory Days co-owners Dave Peterson (left), Ben Peterson Sr. (middle) and Benji Peterson hold a jam session during the shop’s slower hours April 21, 2014.

Glory Days Music

Glory Days Music is relocated to north Joplin after being destroyed by the tornado. Owners Dave Peterson and Ben Peterson Sr. had the store insured, but after a personal lender from Texas sued them, the insurance money was frozen for 14 months. The lender eventually won most of the insurance money in court and the Petersons decided to find a new location for Glory Days.

“Even if we had all the money from insurance, it would have only been enough to either rebuild or restock,” Dave said, “but not both.”

The old lot at 2328 S. Main St. was put up for sale, and the Petersons began searching for a building to house their music shop.

Dave said every potential location fell through and they were close to giving up when they saw the space for lease in the Chase Colton Plaza at 420 N. Range Line Road in Joplin.

The owner of the space was a woman whose husband also lost his business in the tornado.

“She was just dying to have us in there,” Dave said, “and she offered us two months free rent.”

It took nine weeks to move merchandise into the space, but Glory Days had its grand opening on Nov. 23, 2013.

The Petersons did not invest in much advertising besides Facebook, but Dave said December was a pretty good month, although the month’s sales were half what they usually are.

Dave said the new location has its challenges, but believes it still gets more traffic than Main Street.

“Being just north of the mall is a little bit of a dead zone,” said Dave, noting that the busier parts of Range Line Road are toward 20th and 32nd streets.

Ben, however, said the entrance and exit for the plaza’s parking lot is much more accessible, and they are excited about being close to Missouri Southern.

Dave also mentioned that business for this part of town starts later in the day, and that even though the shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., busiest hours are between 4 and 7 p.m.

Relocating has also given the Petersons a chance to reinvent Glory Days.

“It’s a brand new store,” Ben said. “We’re not your kid sister’s band store.”

The new Glory Days specializes in guitars, amps and drums, and has forgotten the days of what Dave calls “flutes and trumpets.”

What differentiates Glory Days from other music shops is that while they carry entry-level equipment, they don’t stop at intermediate, but continue all the way up to high-end equipment for more professional musicians.

“The people who have come in really like it,” Dave said.

Hairbenders Salon and Spa

Hairbenders Salon and Spa opened in 1973, and Kevin Lane had been working there for 15 years when he was approached by the previous owner about taking over.

Lane had owned Hairbenders for six years when the EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin.When Lane made his way to 2201 S. Main St. to check the salon for damage, he saw that it was destroyed.

“My average employee was 27, supporting a family. They needed to be working,” Lane said. “Staying closed was not an option.”

Lane salvaged the water-damaged appointment book and set up a triage office in his sunroom.

Hairbenders was up and running again at City Pointe Beauty Academy in Webb City within three days.

Lane was insured by business interruption insurance, but the stylists working for him were not.

When he showed up at City Pointe, boxes full of $15,000 worth of goods were waiting, donated by Summit Salon Consulting Group, which Hairbenders had been using since 2009.

A manufacturer whom Lane said wishes to remain anonymous also donated $22,000 of stylist setup packs to help the salon staff.

Hairbenders moved into a leased location at 5898 N. Main St. in Joplin on July 5, 2011, and continued working around orange cones as the building was remodeled.

The 3,000-square-foot space had previously been Vatterott College’s Cosmetology School, so the necessary plumbing for a salon was already in place.

Lane spent $25,000 on billboard, TV, newspaper and Internet advertising to inform the public of the new location.

By the end of 2011, Hairbenders had increased its client volume by 35 percent.

The remodel finished at the beginning of 2012, and by the end of that year, Lane’s business had experienced its best year ever in sales.

Lane said Hairbenders is a new salon with a new staff, as there has been 100 percent turnover with his employees since the tornado.

The salon and spa has remarketed as an urban, mid-price salon, with its primary target clients being women from ages 35 to 50.

Some clients from the previous location have stayed loyal, but Lane said the move has almost entirely changed the salon’s target region as well.

“We moved nine minutes north, which in a bigger city, would be nothing,” Lane said. “But being in Joplin, we may as well have moved to Nevada [Mo.].”

Although Hairbenders has now doubled its client volume since its relocation, the salon space and rent have also doubled.

Lane said the business is still growing into a breakeven point financially, since the previous salon was underinsured $189,000. Lane remained optimistic he made the right choice by not rebuilding on the old property, as he said traffic in that area is not enough to sustain his business.

“Had I not been back so quickly, I would have been out of business,” Lane said. “Had I built back [in the same location], I would have been out of business.”

Joplin Tire Center

For Tim Bailey, owner of Joplin Tire Center, 2101 S. Main St., one of the greatest difficulties after the tornado has been sales.

“It’s slower now than before the tornado,” said Bailey. “We’ve lost a customer base, so we’re not selling as much as we used to.”

Bailey said many homes in the surrounding area were destroyed in the tornado and many people left Joplin. He has gained some new customers who are regulars, but sales are still down three years after the tornado.

“There’s just not as many people in Joplin anymore,” said Bailey.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 20,000 people were affected by the tornado, and numbers show a 1.2 percent drop in population from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012.

After the tornado, it took eight months to rebuild, during which time Joplin Tire Center relocated in a temporary building just off Fourth Street.

“The owners of the property built the building back,” said Bailey. “They had trouble building it back … just getting it done, just getting something built.”

Though sales continue to be down, Bailey believes Joplin will continue to grow.

“It’s going to take quite a few years for Joplin to come back like it was before the tornado,” said Bailey.

CiCi’s Pizza

CiCi’s Pizza was another business affected by the Joplin tornado. Now located at 1602 Range Line Road, CiCi’s opened its doors again on Feb. 24, 2014.

“The community has really embraced us being back,” said James Martin, operating partner for the Joplin CiCi’s. “Everybody walks in and says, ‘We’re so glad to have you back,’and we’re glad to be back, too.”

CiCi’s has changed owners. Greg Costly and Martin, the current owners, were not part of the Joplin CiCi’s when the business was first affected by the tornado.

“I know a lot of people lost their jobs,” said Martin. “We’ve hired some of the workers back who were at the old CiCi’s.”

The business is already doing well, with much of the old customer base returning, but it will take time before CiCi’s sees a profit.

“Any time you start a new business it takes a long time to make a profit,” said Martin, “but we hope the most it’s going to take is two to three years to turn a profit.”