Salon owner packs business into van after fire in Villa Grove

Salon owner packs business into van after fire in Villa Grove

VILLA GROVE — It takes a lot more than fire and smoke to shut down Sherrill Thomas.

Her shop, Silhouette beauty salon in downtown Villa Grove, was damaged when the vacant building next door burned down Aug. 10.

Within hours, customers were calling to ask about their hair appointments and when she'd be open again. So Thomas, who has mostly elderly clients, decided to go mobile.

"My car looks like a chuck wagon," she said. "I've got hair dryers, curlers, scissors, everything I need except water."

Thomas moved her salon to 8 S. Main St. last December, but has been in the beauty business in Villa Grove since 1982. She also does weekly hair appointments at two Tuscola assisted-living homes.

"She's always on the go," said Agnes Huber, who has been going to Thomas for years and is not surprised by her service to her customers. "She does it all the time. She'll pick up ladies who can't make it into the shop or come to their house."

Many regular customers, such as Nona Sanders, are eager for the shop to open but appreciate Thomas' efforts in keeping up their routines.

"She's really good-hearted. I just really appreciate her," Sanders said.

Thomas does plan to reopen her shop when all of the cleanup and repairs have been completed, but that could take several months.

Building owner Dale Underwood said the cleanup has already begun but he is not quite sure how much needs to be repaired and how long it will take.

"It's pretty much an empty building now," Underwood said.

Everything had to be stripped down to the bare walls to remove smoke damage. An air-filtration process is also in progress in the building. The outer wall has been determined to be secure and stable, but what was once an inside wall will now need to be tuckpointed and sealed to serve as an outer wall. The two apartments on the second level of the building will also need to be repaired. That level had much more water damage, according to Underwood.

Underwood also owns the next building to the north on the block, where he operates Dale's Jewelry. That building was spared from fire damage, but has been infiltrated by smoke and is also involved in the cleanup.

The insurance company and Servepro cleaning services have taken care of the majority of the cleanup work. Thomas said most of her equipment is in good condition, and that it just needs a good cleaning and some elbow grease before it's reinstalled.

Underwood and Thomas both said it will take patience to get through the next several months.

"It's just another test. God tests you every now and then," Thomas said.

In the meantime, she is serving about a third of her customers, mostly her regular clients and shut-ins, and hopes that everyone will remain patient with her as well.