City Weekly contributor Jeremy Asay wrote about the legal fight local salon Jed's Barbershop found itself in when a national chain, Floyd's 99, got wind of the rock 'n' roll-themed decor.
You can read Asay's story right here. Below, he reflects on the stores redecorating efforts:
After nearly getting swallowed by corporate America, Jed Beal mused about how much easier it would have been to just get a franchise that is already established, trademarked, and protected by whatever big law firm the franchise employs. “It would have been less money and it would have been a lot easier.”
But the Beals operate under the mantra of “local first” to help stimulate the local economy instead of a parent corporation. Everything about their shop was done locally. A local architect designed the interior. They decorated with furniture made by locals. Local artists painted the murals. Local musicians play in the shop. A local designer made the T-shirts. Local artists exhibit their work on the walls. Jed’s Barbershop did more for the local economy than Obama’s weatherizing campaign.
When a local business goes under, it is bad for all of us. It’s more money that we spend that doesn’t circulate locally. It is more industry that is shipped in from China instead of produced down the street. Floyd’s 99 was attacking all of us.
The Beals, who gave so much to our community, felt like they were being punished for their good intentions. But their local connection is intimate and they intended on keeping it that way. After receiving the cease-and-desist order to redecorate, the Beals came up with a plan that would involve local Salt Lakers at a much more intimate level than even before. Part in defiance and part in solidarity, the Beals decided to cover their walls with the faces and places of Salt Lake City, the community that they represent and depend on.
“I just had to go out and make sure no one else was doing it first.”
One Sunday, during business hours, they began removing the album art. Slowly, so they could keep the albums intact, they scraped the album covers off the wall, exposing plain pegboard. The shop, stripped down, was drab and depressing.
After business hours, they began the painting process. Christian Michael of Guthries Artists had originally spray-painted the murals of music legends along the upper portions of the wall. He was there to help buff, aka remove, his own art. “Doing this is sending a message to corporations that they can do these types of things to us,” Michael says.
Michael, a graffiti artist, is concerned with the big picture. He says he has no attachment to the art itself. He has had enough paintings buffed over the years. But, to him it’s another defeat against corporate America. “I am not sentimental about the art,” he says, " but I am not happy with what this means for us.”
Michael, the Beals, and a handful of friends and photographers watched the murals disappear behind gray paint. “I just wish we had the money to fight this,” Michael says.
The shop looked dreary, but to the Beals it was a blank canvas, and they were not shying away from reinvigorating the place with original art. In a way, they are grateful that Floyd’s 99 intervened. “It forces us to be more original and I have tons of original ideas,” Jed Beal says.
“We want to take eclectic images from all over Salt Lake,” Beal says. “Whether that’s people or objects or whatever, but it definitely brands Salt Lake. This is local. It’s all images that you would be familiar with or that are abstract and obscure, but it’s all Salt Lake.”
The effort was community-wide. Locals donated photographs; local artists Blake and Cat Palmer directed the project; local photographer Guila Amato printed some large original shots that are centerpieces in the collage; and after weeks of work, Jed’s Barbershop has a new appearance. Now that it’s all said and done, the Beals are happy they will be operating without fear of corporate sharks.
But the whole experience has left a bad taste in their mouths.
“Where does that trade dress actually stop?” Jed Beal says. “At first glance, every record shop looks like a record shop. At first glance, every coffee shop that has artwork up looks like a coffee shop. But when you look deeper, you see that there are actually themes going on here. When will these local businesses have to close up because they look too much like major franchises?”