Makeovers are coming in several forms on East Second Street these days.

Nichole Jellum, 43, opened Beau Toi (pronounced Bo-twa) day spa and salon at 308 E. second St. last October. She and husband, Matt, have also been making over the building, the former site of Aero Print.

Last summer, Jellum took one look at the three- story building built in 1881 and said, “I’ll take it.”

Building manager Bill Dick and her husband just looked at each other, kind of stunned, she said.

The place needed work. A lot of work.

But it also fit Jellum’s vision—with hair and nail services on the first floor and esthetics on the second. It also had room for independent hairdressers, nail techs, masseuses and estheticians.

The space spoke to her even though it was covered in wood paneling, old carpet and windows covered in plastic sheeting.

The renovation has been a team effort. The building is owned by Mareta Maier and the Dick family of Dick, Dick and Corey Attorneys. And here’s the deal. The Jellums are investing tens of thousands of dollars into the remodel but they are recouping their money through rent reduction.

 “That was an incredible offer of support,” Jellum said on Thursday.

The first floor of transformation is complete. White walls and a black ceiling are grounded with restored warm maple wood floors with an open and airy feel. Route 30’s Bryan LaRoque built the front counter and desk with salvaged wood from Sorosis Park. The counter has a stream of blue flowing through it in a “river of tranquility.”

Even daughter, Chloe, 8, has had a hand in the work, using ear protection and a palm sander to prep wood surfaces.

“This all comes from the heart,” Jellum said, looking around the first floor, pointing out her own personal affects and those made by friends that adorn the walls. “I want people to just melt in here,” she said.

Jellum graduated from Gorge Academy of Cosmetology last spring. And she is being choosy about which professionals to bring into the spa and salon.  “This space needs talented people, the right energy. Kindness needs be throughout it.”

Here is the current lineup: Jellum offers esthetics and lash extension; Ryan Thompson, hair; Yolanda Poland, full cosmetology; Gayle Clark, nails; Matt Nance, hair; and Amber Thomas, Bowen massage.

And what about the name?

Beau Toi is French for beautiful you.  Jellum thought it jibed well with our city name, given by French Fur trappers who first referred to our area as Les dalles, meaning The Slabs. It’s purportedly an allusion to the rocks that created rapids in this area prior to dams being built.

At a Turning Point?  

The spa and salon, located next to Canton Wok, is just the latest transformation. Examples abound within the downtown area.  Copper West Properties rebuilt The Dalles Auto Electric Building; Platinum Mortgage, the former Don’s Cleaners & Laundry; Lindsey and Tom Giamei with their gift shop The Workshop and transformation of the American Legion building; Travis and Jen Dillard’s Loft Apartments in the Honald building. Todd Carpenter and Carla McQuade with the Last Stop Saloon. Investment is in the millions of dollars as investors are betting on a good return.  

Market research reveals that sales increase at smaller retails after a remodel, according to the American Marketing Association quoting a study by Australian Monash University. In a small independent retail store, the sales increases in the year after the remodeling were 43 percent for new customers and 7 percent for existing customers, it reported.

You have to wonder if the same goes for restoration efforts downtown—is the current vote of investor confidence triggering others to come kick tires and or jump in with new businesses or restorations. Is this just the beginning for The Dalles? Are we headed for critical mass, possible boomtown? Or is it just a bubble?

Either way, Mareta Maier said she like the direction Jellum was taking with her building, noting it is a sense of pride for her.

“It was a fright when Aero Print had big machines and boxes all over the place,” she said.  “Nichole’s been a bright spot down there. She’s a jewel.”

For more information on Beau Toi, call 541-851-7228.

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