Entrepreneur Daryl Smith will culminate two years of hard work with the opening of the Fantastic Sams hair and beauty salon in Dover in early February.

Entrepreneur Daryl Smith will culminate two years of hard work with the opening of the Fantastic Sams hair and beauty salon in Dover in early February.

Smith has combined his experience in Verizon Telecommunications and as a marketing director for Chick-fil-A with a fascination with hair styling into his new business. In sum, Smith saw a huge opportunity in providing an affordable, full-service hair salon in central Kent County.

Smith and Fantastic Sams Northeast Regional Director Bob Loffredo worked together to zero in on Dover as the first foray of the national chain into the First State. Smith said Dover had all the right demographics that matched up with the company perfectly.

"We actually bought into the franchise about two years ago," Smith said. "People say location is important. We really took our time to decide what would be the best place to open. We saw the trend going more toward the Middletown and Dover area.

"My background is marketing," Smith said. "However, my passion has always been the hair industry."

That included cutting hair of family members and friends beginning when he graduated from Brandywine High School on through his time studying marketing and business as the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

However, he will focus as owner on hiring excellent salon managers and stylists for his new salon in Dover.

"We're really trying to be a trendsetter," Smith said. "For me, it's customer service first. When you come to Fantastic Sams, we're a full scale salon at very reasonable and affordable prices."

Loffredo said Dover and the rest of the state of Delaware really appealed to the full service, value brand. Loffredo, whose territory includes New England, New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, sees the Dover store as just the beginning of Fantastic Sams' foray into the Diamond State.

"We like Dover because it's a thriving city with all kinds of good residential, industrial and commercial growth going on" Loffredo said. "It's also got the colleges and universities nearby. That all falls into our demographic nicely."

Loffredo said there could be room for as many as 20 Fantastic Sams franchises in Delaware based on software developed with Buxton Retail to analyze the state's dense population, income characteristics as well as the amount of potential competition.

The growth would be part of the national chain's goal to increase its stores from 1,200 to 2,000 across America, Loffredo said. Fantastic Sams has been in business for about 40 years.

"We mostly compete against the mom and pop salons," he said. "We're all vying for that same clientele. Our salons are bigger and can handle more people. Even though we're low cost, high volume, we build pretty nice salons and customers like them."

Plus, Fantastic Sams franchises are usually open six to seven days a week, Loffredo said. Some of its busiest retail days are weekends and on Mondays, when a lot of salons are closed.

Smith and Loffredo plan on a Feb. 1 soft opening once the state board of cosmetology has completed its inspection.

"We'll be in the salon all week prior training staff," Smith said. "I'm looking at hiring 10 to 25 full and part-time employees."

He said anyone interested in working for Fantastic Sams could give him a call at (302) 353-6500.


WHO Daryl Smith, Dover franchise owner

WHAT Fantastic Sams is a 1,200 unit full-service hair care franchise with focuses on everything from cutting, styling and coloring men, women and children's hair at affordable prices. They also offer a range of waxing services and have retail sales as well. Fantastic Sams executed 119 new franchise agreements in 2012.

WHERE 96 Salt Creek Drive, Dover (two doors down from Redner's Warehouse Market)

CONTACT Customers and those interested in obtaining employment at Fantastic Sams may call the store at (302) 677-1500 or Smith personally at (302) 353-6500.