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When Chris Franklin took over Michael’s on Main, she didn’t just inherit a salon, she inherited family

Michael’s on Main has been a staple of downtown Chilliwack for nearly 70 years
Chris Franklin (left) owner of Michael’s on Main and former owner Jan VanderHoek, who still cuts hair at the salon. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Not everyone knows Chris Franklin, but Franklin is friends with pretty much everyone she knows, which isn’t surprising as she spends her days making people happy with themselves.

“I love doing (hair),” said the newest owner of Michael’s on Main, which has been a staple in Chilliwack’s downtown for nearly 70 years. “You become friends with your clients, they become like family.”

And “I really love that almost every time there’s an instant result,” she added with a smile.

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An experienced stylist, Franklin first worked at Michael’s on Main in the ’90s before moving on to open her own salon, which she closed just over a decade ago, but says she never forgot her time there. So when she heard last year that the hair salon might be closing down for good, she says her first thought was, “(Jan) can’t just close it … (and) it wouldn’t leave me, that feeling.”

Jan VanderHoek was the salon’s second owner, having purchased the salon from its namesake, Michael Wientjes, in the early ’70s. But after 46 years of styling hair, VanderHoek had worn a path around his chair and was ready to hang up his scissors. “But what about all the clients?” wondered Franklin.

“It was the history, it’s what everybody knew,” she continued. So Franklin and VanderHoek struck a deal, and in August 2018, she became the salon’s third owner.

“We did four or five days of renovations and reopened, but the main actual footprint is the same. It still has the same feel, the same mirrors, (but I added some) new signage.”

And although Franklin attended VanderHoek’s retirement party, the seasoned stylist couldn’t leave the shop for good, so he can still be found styling hair in Michael’s on Main on Thursdays and Fridays. And Franklin’s daughter’s has also joined the team.

“We’re all learning from each other all the time, so it’s pretty great,” explained Franklin.

Rose MacMillan, the salon’s nail technician for more than two decades, is also still there. “I like holding (people’s) hands,” joked MacMillan. But really, “it’s just so fun. I get to know people, and it’s a positive place (with) positive energy.”

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“We pretty much laugh here all day,” added Franklin. “We make a connection with people and they become our family.

“I enjoy the give and take (of being a stylist). You make great friends and we become part of their lives and they become part of ours. It’s great. And a lot of my former clients have come back 13 years later, which I’m thrilled about.

“Community is also important to me,” said Franklin. At Christmas, the salon’s staff donated their tips to Community Cupboard, which helps low-income families with food, clothing, and school supplies. They also donated their time to the Chilliwack Players Guild, doing the actors’ hair and makeup for their recent rendition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile.

“We fix bad hairdos (and) pull out all the stops for our clients with challenges or disabilities (because) it’s pretty satisfying to see people happy with themselves.”

Besides being able to fix you up with the latest hairstyle or a lovely set of nails, Michael’s on Main also offers a range of esthetics such as eyelash extensions, threading, pedicures and maicures, waxing, facials, and massage.

“If you’ve got good hair, skin, nails, eyelashes—it’s all good!” said Franklin.

For more information, or to book a hair, nail, or esthetics appointment, please visit Michael’s on Main on Facebook, Instagram, or in person at 9248 Main Street, in downtown Chilliwack.

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Old pictures of how the salon used to look hang on the wall at Michael’s On Main. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)