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Combining the old with the new

Greasy Fingers puts modern twist to old-school barber, salon

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August 29, 2022

APPLETON – Walking through the doors of Greasy Fingers on Wisconsin Avenue in Appleton is like taking a step back in time.

Located inside The 10th Frame Sports Bar building, the barber, spa and salon takes old school to a whole new level.

“My friend says, ‘It’s kind of like a hotrod old school place,’” Owner Chrissy Braun said. “It’s really welcoming. We play 1950s music here all the time. We have some old-school stuff up, like an old soda machine from ’68. We have toolboxes for our stuff. I really like Elvis. We have Elvis everywhere.”

Braun said her love of the 1950s stems from fond childhood family memories.

“When I was a kid, my dad and I listened to old music,” she said. “I enjoy old music – I always have. I always listen to it at home. I got into pin-up hair, and I go to car shows and do pin-up stuff. It’s just a hobby of mine.”

Braun said she was intrigued by the feel of the original Greasy Fingers owned by the late Harry Coenen, which piqued her interest in diving into the world of entrepreneurship.

“I liked that building a lot because it was an 80-year-old gentleman running it,” she said. “(When) the owner passed away, I thought it would be cool to take it over and do it more of a twist, a little more modern inside, but still keep it old-school ’50s.”
Braun said her dream came to fruition on Nov. 1, 2017, when she opened the doors to the “new” Greasy Fingers.

“I just wanted to have my own atmosphere, a place where everybody feels at home because I feel at home here,” she said. “It’s just a friendly neighborhood shop.”
Behind the name

With a theme set firmly in the 1950s, Braun said the name needed to represent the vibes inside perfectly.

“We’re based on a ‘50s shop, so the greaser theme,” she said. “They had that pomade on their hands back in the day that wouldn’t come off, so greasy fingers.”

While the theme is old school, Braun said the clientele varies.

“We have mostly men clientele,” she said. “We do a (have a) couple women (clients). We have all ages here. We do kids up to 100 years old here.”

For Coenen’s former clients who have transitioned to the new shop, Braun said there was a slight adjustment to the new atmosphere. 

“Some were shocked women were working here,” she said. “That was a change. We’re old school, so they liked the music. Most people love it. They actually say that’s why they come in here.”
Though Greasy Fingers theme focuses on an era of the past, Braun said the shop’s operations are modern, with stylist chair rentals.

“Everyone just rents a chair for a certain amount and they pay me that,” she said. “I’m basically a landlord. They make their own money. We run it all together so it’s customer friendly. Most people who do chair rentals at other places just run their own spot. We run it all together like a business would.”

Braun said this option affords more opportunities for the stylists.

“They have a chance to take walk-ins,” she said. “Other places don’t have that. They have to promote themselves. Here we keep it customer friendly. We have set hours. Customers can call and we book each other’s appointments.”

Braun said she believes the shop’s focus on the customer is what sets Greasy Fingers apart.

“I know pretty much 80% of my clients’ names that walk in the door,” she said. “ We know our customers well. We don’t have turnover here because everyone is their own boss. We care. My clients are my friends. I treat them like my family.”

Braun said personal referrals are the biggest driver of business for Greasy Fingers.

“We’re mostly word-of-mouth, and we stay very busy with that,” she said. “Once in a while, we’ll put something on Facebook. We’re a local shop where everybody is like, ‘I just heard about you from my friend.’”

Giving it her all

Though a first-time business owner, the job of styling hair was nothing new for Braun, a longtime stylist herself.

The responsibility of being solely in charge, however, Braun said took some getting used to.

“It’s your life,” she said. “It consumes everything in your life. If something breaks, you have to go fix it right away. Your name’s on it, so you have to put everything toward it. Sometimes it comes before your family.”

Owning a business demands a lot from any owner, but Braun said it’s different when love is at the root of the business, as is the case with Greasy Fingers.

“I love my job,” she said. “I love my clients. I love cutting hair. It’s fun. I get to listen to my music all day long. It’s pretty awesome. I have a dream job.”

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