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Best Downtown Stalwart

Photo by Todd Cooper
Photo by Todd Cooper

Glamour Girls and Guys Hair has been doing business at its downtown Broadway location for 27 years. While downtown is relatively pleasant now, for a long time, with the inception of the closed-street mall, it was a shitty, violent, racist place to be — according to some longtime residents of downtown — but Glamour Girls and Guys Hair stuck it out. “We don’t run,” says owner Betty Snowden, of The Betty Snowden Show — and fabulous hat — fame. 

That in itself is enough to earn this title, but the beauty shop is so much more. The business originally opened decades ago for a very simple reason: There was nowhere in Eugene to buy beauty and hair care products that catered to African-Americans.

“We had to drive all the way to Portland to buy hair-care products,” Snowden recalls. Then, Snowden noticed a pattern in the ’90s — people with cancer kept coming to the store asking for wigs. So, Glamour Girls started selling them. They now have an incredible collection of 600-plus wigs for sale, anything from flowing turquoise mermaid locks to frothy pink afros to regular old bobs in blonde, brunette and gray. 

Cassandra Snowden, Betty Snowden’s daughter, showcases perhaps the best customer service in a town where hipster or pothead indifference seems to be the norm. If you want to try on a wig, you purchase a $3 hair net, and then Cassandra will sit you down in a salon chair and gingerly show you how to situate all the styles you want on your noggin. 

There’s no rush and no pressure to buy. The business has a regular clientele including men as well as women; some families have come in for generations, especially for Betty’s hair design. 

While hanging out in the shop, a regular comes in. She tries on a voluminous blonde wig that flows down her back and says she comes back for the customer service and the prices. She tells the story of how she came to be a return customer: Years ago, a head injury from a car accident stopped some of her hair from growing back. She came to the shop and they treated her so well, she remembers, gently helping her try on wigs. Since the accident, “It was the first time I felt normal,” she says. “To get that back…” she trails off, tearing up.

“Women really do feel transformed,” Cassandra Snowden says. And that’s the goal.

“We want people to leave inspired,” Betty Snowden says.