Daniel James Salon opens ground-level retail on Bay Street
Daniel Gamsky has been styling many of Jacksonville’s most notable people’s hair for 30 years. He has been doing it Downtown on the second floor at 45 W. Bay St. since 1995, but if you weren’t one of his clients, you might not have realized that’s what was happening up there.
That changed Monday morning after Gamsky and his staff at Daniel James Salon worked all weekend to get the new Aveda hair-care products retail store stocked. They even used leftover hair color to stain the wood trim.
“We opened a little earlier than planned, but I wanted the new ground-floor space to open in conjunction with DVI’s (Downtown Vision, Inc.’s) dining week promotion,” he said.
Gamsky opened his first salon in Mandarin, but decided to consider moving when one of his clients who worked Downtown told him it wasn’t convenient for her to go almost to St. Johns County to have her hair styled.
“She was an attorney at Holland & Knight and couldn’t take the time for the round-trip it took for her to make her hair appointments. I looked at several available spaces, but decided there isn’t a better view than here. The large windows let in lots of light and there are usually birds building nests in the trees,” Gamsky said of his second-floor salon area looking out on the trees along Bay Street and Independent Square.
The location has made Gamsky a bit of a Downtown historian.
“It’s also one of Downtown’s most unique buildings. It was constructed in 1901 for the H. & W. B. Drew Company, then Henry Klutho designed a third floor that was added eight years later. The structure went vacant years later and was going to be demolished in 1975, but fortunately it was saved and restored. Then in 1979, a fire gutted the building and destroyed Klutho’s third floor,” he added.
DVI’s monthly First Wednesday Art Walk was the inspiration to expand the business with a retail store at street level, he added.
“Every month, we take everything down off the walls in the salon and invite artists to exhibit their work here. A month doesn’t go by that several people – and some of them work right across the street or in the Bank of America Tower – would come in to see the art and tell me they had no idea there was a salon here. I think having a street-level presence will be a great asset.”
Gamsky said the retail area is just the beginning of enhancements he’s planning for the salon. The 106-year-old building has never had an elevator, so he’s installing a styling station on the ground floor for clients who can’t climb stairs. The third-floor lounge will soon include a coffee and juice bar and he plans to expand the availability of services.
“Downtown is progressing so much with more people living here and coming here on the weekends, we’ll soon be open a couple of Saturdays each month.”
A grand opening for the expansion is scheduled for Sept. 5 and Gamsky is going to continue the salon’s first Wednesday tradition.
“We’re going to fill the atrium here at the building with art this time because we’re expecting a large turnout with the Jaguars football theme of next month’s Art Walk. We’re going to invite artists and have live music and refreshments for everyone who’d like to tour our new space,” he said.