KEYPORT — Bob Kiley has styled hair for more than three decades. He’s bringing that expertise back to Keyport. He and wife Chrissy bought the building on Main Street which originally housed Jersey Central Power & Light before more recently serving as Borough Hall.
The building has been vacant since for about a decade. The Kileys had to make extensive renovations to bring the old Borough Hall up to par for the salon. The business is part of a small revitalization in which many shop owners are giving facelifts to their stores along the West Front Street business district.
Bob is a Keyport native. Chrissy is originally from Hazlet, but she has called the borough home for more than 20 years. The couple has no other employees so they spend 14-hour days, four days a week, on the job. They alternate closing the shop Mondays and Fridays, though Bob “wishes he could do five days.”
Why did you decide to open this salon in Keyport?
CK: My husband grew up in Keyport his whole life and he loves it.
BK: The town (government) came to me.
CK: The town came to him because we own other properties in town and they like what he does with his buildings and they asked him if he wanted to take this.
What else in town do you own?
CK: We own the Baykeeper and the old west furniture building that is a window treatment store now.
BK: The Apache grocery store.
CK: The Baykeeper building right here on Front Street we own. We had a salon in there for five years before we moved out of there and now they are our tenants.
As far as this building is concerned, what had to be done in the line of renovations?
BK: Well we basically had to totally strip it down to the foundation. There is not one piece of wiring or plumbing that is original.
CK: Total renovation. Everything had to be new. We basically tell people it was down to some cinder blocks and some holes in the wall.
Do you have a preferred style of renovations?
BK: Whatever the piece of property calls for really. Everyone says, “Oh this is your style?” because it is very traditional but if we were in Colorado this might have visible support beams and antlers. It’s whatever the property calls for.
There are a few other hair salons in town. Were you concerned about an oversaturation of the market?
BK: Everyone was worried that I was going to be their competition but I’ve been in business for 34 years and I’m booked for three months in advance so I made sure they knew not to worry about me because I have my own customers. I have my own clientele. We were busy the day we opened the door so I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t know if I can even take any new customers.
Do you have any style don’ts? Anything you would recommend against?
BK: I think anything goes now right? Everything comes around through history over and over it is the same style.
Any hair styling pet peeves?
BK: Unpreparedness. I hate it when people are unprepared. I like it when they know what they want.
Do you have a styling specialty?
CK: No. Not really. We are very unpretentious. We are very under the radar.
What sets you apart?
BK: We work four 14 hour days. That’s what sets us a part. It’s just long work days. I’m always available. I don’t really take time off. There are a lot of good salons in the area. I think there are plenty of customers for everybody.
CK: We wanted to take on a new project. That’s the only reason we decided to do this. We like to do that. We like to renovate things and take on big projects. We love renovating old buildings so that’s why we moved back into town.
Editor’s note: Have you opened a business in town recently? Would you like to be interviewed? Email Matthew McGrath at KeyportAnchor@gmail.com.