Biggleswade's A Little Retreat thanks loyal customers as it celebrates 25th anniversary
'It's been amazing to see how people have grown and changed over the years'
A Biggleswade salon has celebrated its 25th anniversary with "champagne, cupcakes and good conversation!"
Staff at A Little Retreat, Shortmead Street, were thrilled to share their success with customers, as everyone reminisced about the years gone by and looked ahead to happy times to come.
The business started life in 1996 as 'The Retreat Beauty Salon’ and has had many guises, including ‘The Retreat Beauty Spa’, ‘The Retreat Beauty Spa and Boutique’ and as of now, ‘A Little Retreat’.
Salon owner, Debbie Galvin, said: "We celebrated in the salon with individual customers. There was champagne, cupcakes, and good conversation about everything we had been through over the last last 25 years.
"Some people come in every two or three weeks but then suddenly in lockdown we didn't see them for four months.
"It was as bad as not seeing friends or family - because they are your friends and family in the salon!
"It's been amazing to see how people have grown and changed over the years."
Debbie has loved getting to know her customers, some of whom originally came in as young mums and now have children at university.
She described the many happy memories they had shared over the years - "birthdays, anniversaries, weddings - we see babies growing up" - and explained how a trip to the salon could be a source of comfort.
Debbie, who lives in Sandy, said: "We have lost some customers over the years to illness. That's been hard. But then their other family members come in and we can reminisce. They love being able to talk about their loved one and happy times in the salon."
The business too has faced ups and downs over the years, battling recessions, changing trends, and of course the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
Debbie added: "It was really difficult. We could give people a massage but we weren't allowed to give them a hug - and sometimes that's what they needed!
"I think the one thing about our role is that we get job satisfaction with every customer - painting their nails, removing their hair or giving them a massage. We make people feel better in whatever way they want to feel better.
"My favourite thing? I honestly think it's the family and team building. From our client base we could name 100 people that we would class as the Retreat family. We know so much about them and they know so much about us."
A Little Retreat offers massages, facials, pedicures, reflexology, and aromatherapy as well as nail and lash treatments.
In days gone by the business has also offered hairdressing, boasted a spa and also sold clothing and gifts - services which have come and gone thanks to changing trends.
Readers may remember the business's former locations, too, including Biggleswade High Street (1996) and London Road (1999). The team moved to Shortmead Street in 2020.
Debbie concluded: "Thank you to my team; we've had many girls over the years and we couldn't have done it without them.
"And a massive thank you to our customers for sticking by us through all our changes, especially in these last two years and for coming back to see us. We reach people in so many different ways. Everybody that comes in needs something different and we deliver it every time."
When asked about her hopes for the future, Debbie added: "Not go back in lockdown again! More than anything we want to keep our doors open and continue to be a safe environment."
Finally, the salon owner paid tribute to two loyal beauticians who are now self-employed under the The Retreat umbrella: Abi Mackenzie, based at the salon for 21 years (holistic therapy, reiki, aromatherapy, reflexology, bamboo treatment), and Sophie Marshall - based at the salon for five years (an 'all rounder' who specialises in lashes, nails, brows).