For 40 years Betty Munro has been styling hair and selling cosmetics and gifts from her Merle Norman Studio at the corner of West Main and Walnut streets. She and her husband Dick believe they are the longest tenured business with the same owner still operating in Crawfordsville’s downtown.
“There are businesses that may have been here longer, but they have had different owners over the years,” Dick said.
Merle Norman started in 1951, selling cosmetics to women with the “try it before you buy it” business model. Studios opened nationwide, and in 1956 Crawfordsville had its own Merle Norman Studio. It was located at 113 S. Walnut St., a half a block from today’s location. Tessie Larrick was its owner.
“She was a personal friend of a lady in Indianapolis who had a studio,” Betty said. “So, she decided to try it here.”
Larrick’s husband was a plumber and he ran his business from the same location.
In 1967, the Merle Norman Studio moved to its present day location at 136 W. Main St. Over the next 11 years the studio would have four different owners. In 1978, the Munros purchased the business.
Today, Betty still styles hair, and her daughter-in-law manages the makeup counter.
“It’s a family business,” Betty said.
Many of the studio’s customers are loyal to the Merle Norman brand, and others are equally committed to Betty.
Through the years she has heard many stories from clients.
“Maybe I should have Dick write a book,” she said with a smile and a nod to her husband, a retired local columnist, radio voice and published author.
“There are some customers who I have helped see them through hell and back,” she said.
At 75, Betty is not looking to expand the business or even leave the downtown.
“Merle Norman, the corporation, would like to see us south of town,” she said. “But it’s not going to happen while I’m here.”
Over the years, the Munros have seen foot traffic decline and they have watched Internet sales climb, but that does not deter them.
“You may be able to buy a lot of things on the Internet,” Dick said. “But you still can’t get your hair down on the Internet.”
In celebration of the couple’s milestone, the Munros are offering a special anniversary sale that continues through Saturday. Everything in the store, with the exception of cosmetics, is half off.
The studio is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and be appointment. Call 765-362-0448 to learn more.