Fantastic Waxing is among the shops feeling the squeeze. The store is remarkably clean, so white as if to glow hygiene from its tiled floors and four pedicure stations, which are set back like resting lazy boys with shiny basins at their feet. In the corner, behind a sliding curtain, is a table for waxing. It’s covered in a crisp floral sheet, like a dentist’s chair masquerading as a neon oasis.
Originally from Vietnam, owner Lananh Phan, 57, and her 34-year-old son, Tomy Phan, moved from Florida nine months ago to fulfill a dream and open the shop in Hawaii. She and Tomy – the store’s only employees – specialize in high-quality hard waxing, nails and elaborate men’s styles “cut with heart,” as Tomy says. Lananh prides herself on her hard waxes, which she says are meticulous, painless and very popular back in Florida.
The Phans are slowly growing their clientele, especially for her waxes, but it hasn’t been easy. Most days, three or four customers stop by, though there are days when the store stays empty. On good days, as many as seven will come in. Luckily, at $1000 a month, the rent is cheap.