by Jim Boyle


Salon on Main has its charm back following a six-month remodeling project, and owner Deana McLean managed to strengthen its partnership with the Elk River High School DECA program in the process.

After wrapping up a complete remodel of building at 705 Main St., McLean took a call from Sonja Weiler, a marketing teacher at Elk River High School who heads up the DECA program, asking if she would consider renting space at the salon to the program.

Elk River High School was going to be closed off to the public, and Weiler was looking for ways to keep the student-run business afloat.

“She was all for it,” Weiler said of the request. “It means the world to the students. If we don’t have partnerships like this, we would struggle.”

Advanced marketing students Jayna Hager, Lindsay Strecker and Ali Burstad manage the business with a team approach that includes DECA officers and other marketing students.

Normally, the class runs most of its business out of a school store. This year that was not going to be doable. A combination of online sales, a new trailer sales venture and the Salon on Main operation is keeping the DECA business afloat.

“The kids love the downtown store setting,” Weiler said. “It’s more real to them. We know the (school) store is real, but it’s not exposed 100% to the community.”

McLean said she loves giving the students the education of learning, organizing and running a full store out in the community and looks forward to the continued partnership.

“It’s also nice having all the Elk River apparel and other items they sell available for people to buy,” McLean said. “And it brings another store to our downtown.”

The timing for DECA renting the front of the salon couldn’t have been better, and McLean is planning to rent the space out on a month-to-month basis when DECA moves back to the high school.

“This space for pop-up shops gives entrepreneurs a chance to try out selling their items for a month without breaking the bank in dealing with long-time leases,” McLean said.

As customers come to the salon to have their body, feet, hair, nails and skin pampered, they see the DECA operation. And when people come to buy authentic Elk River High School apparel, they see all Salon on Main has to offer.

With the remodel, there’s a whole lot more natural light running through the business. McLean started the project just before the pandemic took hold and shut schools and businesses down. What was going to be a roofing project at first turned into a complete remodel.

In addition to fixing the roof, Kiser Construction peeled back layers of flooring, ceilings and walls to restore the charm of the business and also installed a mixture of walls and rooms to give each of the trained professionals their own safe studio space to work out of. By opening up the back to the Mississippi River, natural light spills throughout the main floor of the building to accentuate all the work that was done to beautify the place.

Steve Caouette of Signature Stucco gave the rear exterior a fresh look.

“Working through the difficult times of the 2020 pandemic was not easy,” McLean said.

The project was complete by the end of July.

“The building now has its charm back after finding some of the original vintage interior hidden under what was there,” McLean said. “Opening up the back area — once a glass block window — to an open large window letting in natural light all the while being able to look out to the beautiful Mississippi River has been wonderful.

“With the space of the salon now having designated studio rooms for each staff member, it makes it even safer to deal with the COVID-19 and to stay 6 feet apart.”

McLean, owner and co-founder, continues to work as a professional acrylic nail technician, pedicurist and reflexologist. She also performs rain drop therapy and offers holistic healing.

The staff members have their own specialties. Abby Cummings, Traci Rondeau, Aimee Thomforde and Cari Monson are all professional stylists. Amy Bond is a professional stylist and nail technician. Sue Oster is a permanent makeup artist.

“Clients are encouraged to call and schedule their next visit in our completely remodeled salon in the heart of downtown Elk River,” McLean said.

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