​Hair Depot Plans to Stay in Area

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Hair Depot salon will remain in the area, said owner Karen Throneberry, even when she ultimately leaves the current location off Highway 41A in Sewanee.

The University of the South purchased the building in November for future renovation and on Dec. 1, Throneberry signed a one-year lease with the University.
“There may come a time when I have to move somewhere, but it’ll be in the area. Since we can’t see into the future, that’s what I’m perceiving I’ll do. Or I’m going to go to work in (Sewanee resident) Louise Irwin’s garage,” she joked.
Under the previous owner, Throneberry had a handshake agreement with no set terms. Since the University purchased the building, she said customers ask her everyday about when she is leaving.
The Hair Depot salon has a fiercely loyal following, with people booking appointments months in advance, many women wanting to be prepared for special events such as weddings, concerts and parties. Throneberry currently has bookings into July 2017 and can’t get anyone in at all until late January.
Frank Gladu, University vice president for administrative services, said the Hair Depot site will eventually be a grocery store as part of the longterm Sewanee Village Implementation Plan, but there is no set timeline on the project.
“We extended an offer to work with her as closely as possible to find a place here in Sewanee. That would be our preference,” he said. “Karen has a vibrant business with lots of activity and we’re focused on trying to create activity in the Village, so if we could figure out a way to have Karen stay here we would try to facilitate that as much as we possibly can.”
The University also owns the adjacent Sewanee Market building, which is slated to eventually become a village greenspace. Gladu said new development depends largely on the progression of narrowing Highway 41A at the intersection with University Avenue. University officials are working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on a plan to narrow the street and slow down traffic to give it more of a Main Street than a highway feel, Gladu said.
“Until I see heavy equipment, I’m not really worried about losing a place to work,” Throneberry said.
After the one-year lease expires, the agreement will continue on a month-to-month basis with a 90-day notice to vacate required by Throneberry or the University.
“We have no intention of displacing her unless we have an opportunity to develop this space,” Gladu said.
The Village plan has generated both controversy and rumors, and Gladu said he understands the trepidation. He noted that he plans to have another public meeting in January to discuss the village plan.
“There’s a lot of charm to the way the Village is right now,” he said. “I recognize that. The University’s interest is to try to create as vibrant a place as possible so that it can continue to attract students, continue to attract new faculty and staff to the area. And a vibrant downtown simply enhances that value proposition of coming to Sewanee.”
He said, in addition, the University wants to make the Village more of a destination spot for people to shop and visit.
Throneberry started cutting hair in 1986 between having four kids. She started at Hair Gallery in Sewanee in 2007, before opening Hair Depot five years ago. Tobbin Beasley is the other stylist at the salon.
For more information on future plans for the Village, visit <Sewanee.edu/village>.