Gerry and Sylvia “Sam” Banks moved across the country from California to be near their children and grandchildren.
They opened a new business, Top Notch Salon, 25 years ago, on April 1.
The salon, at Windsor Square Shopping Center in Matthews, offered a place for people to get their hair done and maybe a manicure or pedicure.
Over the years, this family business has welcomed many customers; that family includes daughter Barb Shumate, who has worked at the salon since it opened, and another daughter, Debbie Hilton, worked as a hairstylist at the salon for about a year before going into real estate.
Shumate’s daughter, Nicole, started working there four years ago, so at one time there were three generations of the family working at the salon.
In addition to being part-owner, Sam Banks worked at Top Notch as a nail technician.
According to Hilton, Banks worked there until she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cancer, at age 74, when doctors felt there was too much risk of infection for her to continue.
“Her clients came to her for years, and it was kind of a joke between them that she was still doing nails at her age,” Hilton said. “She loved to stay busy, and it was her way of being able to save money to go on her yearly tropical vacation.”
Sam Banks died Aug. 22, 2014, 1 1/2 years after her MDS diagnosis.
“She was always known for her red lipstick,” Hilton said. “At her memorial all the hairstylists wore red lipstick in her honor.”
Banks also was known for keeping the salon neat and clean. “The girls would joke, like they did at the wake, about her notes if you didn’t sweep or clean up,” Shumate said. “She would definitely let you know that she was very proud of how she kept the salon.”
Shumate said her mother often gave the hairstylists advice on dating or everyday life. Salon staffers helped each other out, like the time they held a Hair Cut-a-thon to raise money for a relative of one of the stylists who had cancer.
They all had fun together, too. Hairstylists Jan Johnson and Denise Lothrop helped teach Sam Banks to dance to the Electric Slide before she went a tropical vacations.
Gerry and Sam Banks were married for 57 years. Gerry is approaching his 81st birthday this month and still goes to the salon every day to handle finances and re-stock products; however, it is time to sell the business, he said, and they’ve found someone right in the shop who wants to buy it.
Amber Sprinkle (now Stewart), 24, began working at the salon five years ago, on the salon’s 20th anniversary. On April 1, she and her husband of three years, Dylan Stewart, 25, are planning to take over ownership on the salon’s 25th anniversary.
“I’ve always dreamed of owning my own salon,” Amber Stewart said. “God’s had his hand in it the whole time.”
The Stewarts plan to change some of the decoration, but the name and sign will remain the same. Amber will continue to style hair and manage day-to-day operations; Dylan will manage the business and handle finances.
“We are excited to carry on the name and reputation of Top Notch Salon and are grateful for the 25 years of dedication that Gerry and Sam have put into it,” Dylan Stewart said.
Shumate and her daughter, Nicole, will continue to work at the salon.
“I feel so blessed that Amber and Dylan are the ones able to buy the salon. They are young and so excited to have their dreams come true of owning a salon,” Shumate said.
“I will always cherish that I worked with my mom for 25 years. It was a very special relationship.”
Kim Becknell Williams is freelance writer. Have a story idea for Kim? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.