Best of Dayton: How Square One Salon and Spa became a dominant winner this year

Long before Square One Salon and Spa became synonymous with high end spa services in the Miami Valley, its three founders, Doug Henderson, Josh Stucky and Brent Johnson, began to talk about opening a business.

“Doug was a stylist at O’neys Salon in Dayton,” Johnson said. “The salon had five locations then and they were merging into a much larger single location.”

Henderson decided he wanted to open his own salon and Johnson and Stucky became part of that conversation.

Opening day of the first Square One location on Third Street downtown in 1999 marked the first time Johnson, who had worked in retail and merchandising, and Stucky, who had been a teacher in Kettering, ever worked in a salon.

“We had a desire to own our own business,” Johnson said. “What we brought to the table was service experience and a willingness to work hard and do whatever it took to make the business successful.”

Credit: BILL REINKE

Credit: BILL REINKE

Stucky and Johnson are life partners and were officially married five years ago. Johnson said their joint bank account was often empty over the years of building Square One.

“Owning a business is different from what everyone imagines it is,” Johnson said. “It’s seven days a week, 24 hours a day of responsibility.”

By the time the coronavirus pandemic closed down businesses in February of 2020, Square One Salon had six locations, including two in Columbus and their newest at Oak Creek Plaza in Dayton, and a reserve of money in the bank. But the eight-week shutdown changed everything.

“We had been open 19 years and had never laid off anyone,” Johnson said. “We let 200 people go in one fell swoop.”

The partners said paying rent on all six locations and health insurance premiums for their laid off employees drained their reserves. But once they were able to open again, with safety protocols and procedures in place, their regular clients came streaming back.

“They were begging us to open,” Johnson said. “We still have clients coming back to this day for the first time.”

Stellar service, a focus of the Square One team, has made a difference and it’s one reason Square One has been awarded several Best of Dayton recognitions: Best Aesthetic Services, Best Hair Salon/Stylist, Best Place to Get a Manicure and Best Spa.

“Everything is now back to normal, but our future is to go deeper in making the Square One experience great for employees and guests,” Johnson said. “It’s not about being bigger. It’s about being more meaningful and powerful in the experience.”

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