Longtime Merrill salon owner announces retirement
After nearly 50 years in the salon business, Florence Koch will be officially retiring at the end of May. She recently sold her business, Hair for All, to Sandy Gipple, owner of Images Hair & Tanning.
Flo moved to Merrill in 1965 and started her career in Merrill with Grace’s Beauty Nook, where she worked before and after her children were born.
On April 18, 1983, Flo opened Hair For All at 419 E. 2nd St. The building is now long-gone and the property is part of the new Merrill fire station lot. Hair For All outgrew the small building and needed to expand.
In 1991, Hair For All moved to a much larger building at 1005 E. Main St., where it has remained for 23 years. The building had previously been a tavern and required a complete gutting and remodeling to transform it from saloon to salon.
For Flo, some of the highlights of her career include traveling to Russia with the People to People project in 1993, and being named to the Who’s Who of Cosmetology in 1994-1995. Over the years, Hair For All has done service projects to help the community, including the Cut-A-Thon and Christmas trees for the needy.
In 1989, Hair For All was featured in the Foto News for taking the bold step of adding a personal computer to the business. Flo said she’s only replaced that computer once since.
As she looks toward retirement, Flo says she’ll miss her customers, many of whom she has had long-term relationships with. Some of them have been coming to her for more than 40 years.
“Our clients over the years have always been important to us,” Flo said, “and it has been a pleasure to have served them.”
Hair For All hosted a retirement party Saturday and Flo invited all the stylists she has worked with over the years.
“I’ve had the honor of working with the best people over the years – together we made a team,” Flo said.
Hair For All had as many as six stylists in the shop for many years. For the last few years, however, the shop was manned by just Flo and Sue Swanson, who has been with Hair For All for 29 years. Sue will stay with the shop as it transitions to Images.
Flo has no intention of being idle in retirement. She and her husband, who is already retired, keep busy with attending flea markets and buying and selling antiques. They also spend about half their time in Arbor Vitae these days.
“I’ve had my great day in the sun,” she said. “It’s time now for family and friends, flea markets and antiques malls, hobbies, taking photos, fishing and playing cards.”
Gipple needed to move her business on short notice in March when the building that house Images at 911 E. Main St. was condemned due to serious structural damage to an adjoining building. She approached Flo, and within a few hours they had made a verbal deal to transfer ownership of the Hair For All building.
Flo is glad to see her building remain an active salon in Merrill’s downtown.
“Sandy will do very well,” she said. “It’s in good hands. I’m very, very pleased.”