After 20 years, Fletcher Hardiman's Hyattsville hair salon has cut, curled and combed through thousands of miles of hair, all of it at the Mall at Prince Georges.
Though, when he opened his it was called Prince George's Plaza. The name is not the only thing that's changed for Hardiman in his two decades in the hair business. He also remembers a time before the Green Line of the Metro opened up, bringing customers to the mall who might not otherwise have made the trip.
"It's a dynamic environment," said Fletcher of his adopted home. "The county has gone through some changes since we opened."
Hardiman says he always wanted to own his own business, but after years working in corporate marketing, he wasn't sure he had the chops to do it.
Then one day in the late 1980s, while at a franchise opportunity meeting, he took a leap of faith and decided to try his hand at running an Accent Hair Salon.
"For myself, I had to do a franchise because I had no background in the hair business," said Hardiman in an interview. "I didn't look at it from a cosmetology background, but from a business perspective. For me, a franchise was the way to go."
It was no small matter. He would have to move from his familiar Pittsburgh down to Prince George's County to open the franchise. But Hardiman says he found a welcoming business community in the mall, making the transition that much easier.
"The Mall at Prince Georges had all the things we were looking for," said Hardiman in a press release issued by the mall celebrating his two decades in business there. "The mall is a community staple, with a great target audience and working women."
Hardiman said his laid the foundation for his salon's longevity.
"I have an internal focus on my business," said Hardiman in an interview. "We do our share by trying to make ourselves customer friendly…you have to focus on your customers."
When asked if, after 20 years, he is planning on retiring soon, Hardiman, age 63, laughed.
"I have a nine-year-old," said Hardiman. "I'm going to be working for a while."