indigo Salon & Day Spa
CHELMSFORD - It was a bittersweet decision, but Lori Contarino is convinced it's the right one.
Sometime later this week, Contarino will complete the transfer of her business, Indigo Salon & Day Spa, from 165 Merrimack St. in downtown Lowell to a larger space at the Summer Street Plaza in Chelmsford.
The move will allow Contarino to expand her business by about 50 percent, add to her staff and offer customers something they just don't get in downtown Lowell - free parking.
"The day I leave downtown I'm going to cry, " Contarino said in a recent interview from her new space at 7 Summer St. "I really love Lowell."
She said the new 3, 400-square-foot space will offer added hair stations, color bar and a new feature - a blow-dry bar. Contarino also said Indigo will have a larger manicure and pedicure area, new skin care and make-up stations, as well as massage rooms for both individuals and couples.
She also said Indigo will soon offer laser hair removal and medical skin care services.
Contarino, a master stylist and certified master colorist, got her first look at downtown Lowell while working at what was then called Inizio Spa, which drew brief fame outside Lowell more than a decade ago when it was visited by then-Red Sox star Johnny Damon. When it closed in 2010, Contarino told her husband, restaurant entrepreneur Anthony Contarino, that she wanted to buy. Lori reopened the spa in March 2011, re-branding it as Indigo Salon & Day Spa.
While Contarino admits that the business is holding its own, she felt she needed to move in order to grow. She also mentioned that downtown Lowell's parking challenges, which include ongoing work in one garage, were hurting her ability to serve her clientele.
She added, however, that her husband's business, Tre Monte Pizzeria on Palmer Street, "isn't going anywhere."
City Manager Kevin Murphy said repairs in the Roy Garage on Market Street include structural work to the walls and lighting, and are nearing completion. But in the meantime, there has been "plenty" of parking in the John Street Garage, he said.
"We did everything we could to help her out, " said Murphy. "The reason we moved parking for the School Department to the Ayotte Garage (near the Tsongas Center) was to offer more space for the downtown businesses."
Murphy also said the city gave Indigo its own parking-validation machine at no cost.
But the underlying reason for the move was an ability to grow.
Contarino, who got her start working for her mother in a hair salon while growing up, currently employs nine people. She expects to add "more than a few" shortly after moving into the new location.
"I'm really looking forward to this, " she said. "I admit I was concerned that some of my Lowell customers wouldn't like it, but they've been great."
Existing appointments will be transferred over to Chelmsford and the spa will continue accepting appointments throughout the transition. Contarino also said current gift certificates will be honored at the new location.