Salon leaving downtown after 36 years, opening new barber shops

Pandemic-related financial losses and a changing downtown business landscape are prompting MDG Salon | Studio owner Travis Moore to make major changes to his operations.

Moore said Thursday that the company’s downtown Indianapolis salon at 355 Indiana Avenue is closing, marking the first time since it was founded 36 years ago that MDG won’t have a downtown salon.

Moore, however, said the business will consolidate salon operations at MDG’s Carmel location at 820 E. 116th St. starting March 1. At the same time, he plans to expand the number of Black Orchid Barbers locations he operates from two to three.

Prior to the pandemic, Moore said MDG had roughly 55 employees split between the salon’s two locations. Now, Moore said that number will be reduced to roughly 35 employees who will call the Carmel salon home.

“Hair salons are hard enough, and having two is really challenging,” Moore said. “I’m really amped-up and excited about being able to focus my attention and our efforts on a single salon, to establish greater efficiencies.”

The Black Orchid Barbers housed with the Carmel salon will remain in business but the one that shares space with MDG downtown will move to 613 N. East St., in the Mass Ave District, during the first week of March.

Moore said construction on a third location will start within the next three weeks. That location will bring a sized-down Black Orchid with a couple of chairs to a 300-square-foot space in one of the 16 Tech Innovation District’s shipping containers, at 1210 Waterway Blvd.

The barber shops currently have eight employees, but Moore hopes to grow that number to 12 by the time all three are open in the third quarter of 2021.

Moore said he made the decision to consolidate MDG and carve out Black Orchid after his business lost roughly $1 million during the pandemic. The cost of reopening those businesses after a three-month hiatus was high, he said, in part because he spent $20,000 on personal protective equipment alone.

Moore said operations costs are far greater at the salons than at the barber shops, and that’s why he’s willing to expand the Black Orchid Barbers brand.

MDG was founded in 1985 as Meridian Design Group by Moore’s parents. The downtown location moved from Pan Am Plaza to Indiana Avenue in 2007.

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4 thoughts on “Salon leaving downtown after 36 years, opening new barber shops

    1. I think the business costs of doing hair vary widely by the size of the shop and number of employees. My hairdresser and her two assistants have been dressed up like ER nurses, scrubs and all, since they could re-open back in May. She recently told me they managed to stay out of the red last year, just barely. I think the scale the salon in the article is operating at, with dozens of employees and thousands of square feet in big multitenant buildings means they have a lot more overhead. Especially compared to a 300 sqft barber shop.

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