New Brakes and a New ‘Do All in Moorhead Pit Stop


Source: StarTribune post on a new way to make brake and other auto repairs more palatable for customers.

MOORHEAD, Minn. – New brakes and a Relaxation Automobile Station co-owner Troy Derheim described how he wants his hair cut to Sandee Stall, manager of the sister business, the Hair Garage.

The three men who started Relaxation Automobile Station last year in Moorhead thought they had a pretty cool idea on their hands.

“We were just thinking: We’ve been to lots of oil change places,” said Joe Day, one of the business’ three owners. “You got your greasy table with your greasy coffee cup, in a cramped area with cheap chairs. Then you got those high-pressure salespeople coming. You bring your car in, and you just get ready for an argument when they tell you everything else that’s wrong with you car.”

Auto shops were not pleasant places, not customer-focused experiences. They wanted to change that.

And what’s the most relaxing, pleasant place anyone can go?

A spa.

They would turn their auto shops into something like a spa.

And so: A full-service auto shop — they service brakes and electrical and transmissions, do oil changes and air conditioning work, too — with a small adjacent used-car lot filled with economical cars.

But the big selling point: the Hair Garage, a connected hair salon with two state-of-the-art massage chairs, a treadmill, Wi-Fi and a Keurig coffee machine. They do women’s hair — including coloring — and men’s hair, manicures and pedicures, even kids’ hair.

The timing, Day would admit, was unfortunate. They had a soft opening for the Hair Garage on March 12, just as the coronavirus was shutting down American public life. Days after it opened, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order to shut down all salons and spas until at least March 27 to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re laughing, or else we’d have to cry,” Day said the other day. “We just started the salon and had a big first day. Then this hit. The coronavirus stole our thunder! But that was our soft opening. We’re going to save our grand opening for 14 or 21 days.”

As Day spoke, the salon manager piped up. She heard a rumor salons could be closed for eight weeks: “We’re praying it won’t be.”

They know it’s now a problem shared by all in American society. But they still believe in their idea, whenever it can actually be used. They believe it can be a huge success and can eventually expand.

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About Author

Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Senior Editor for The BRAKE Report. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.