Cuts for kids – Rick’s Island Salon offers free back-to-school haircuts

— Rick Popoff was looking for a way to give back. The way he found, using his talents and the services of his business, Rick’s Island Salon and Day Spa, ensure that the children of Marco Island can return to school looking sharp.

“Many years ago, the chamber of commerce had a program they called ‘couch kids.’ It was to help kids going through a rough time, who didn’t have much,” Popoff recalled. “They got food from Publix, household goods from Walmart, and I thought ‘why not give those kids a free haircut?’ We contacted the chamber, they contacted the schools, and we gave a gift card to all the children in the program.”

After two years, and seeing what a difference the new look made to the kids, Popoff decided to expand the free program to all of Marco Island.

“The third year, we decided why single out just those kids,” he said. “So we opened it up, and anyone who goes to school on Marco Island, or from Marco Island, gets a free back to school haircut. Last summer, we did 119 free haircuts, and we hope to do a lot more this summer. It’s gotten bigger every year.”

Rick’s Island Salon’s free program covers all the island’s schools, said Rick Popoff. He named Tommie Barfield Elementary, the Marco Island Charter Middle School, the new Marco Island Academy, and the Montessori School. Kids who attend Lely High School or Seacrest Country Day School are also eligible, he said.

“We’ve had three kids born and raised on the island, and they all went to the local public schools,” said Rick Popoff, standing in the shop with his wife Lisa. “We know how important it is for kids to look sharp that first day of school.” Many children, added Rick, undergo a metamorphosis when they transition back from laidback summer vacation mode to the workaday world of school.

“Typically, they have different styles during the summer. You see a lot of Mohawks or ‘faux-hawks.’ The girls might have some different colors, and some are pretty wild,” he said. “But going back to school, they want a more traditional look, more conservative.”

Rick Popoff has been in the hairstyling business for many years, and he said the roots go back to his childhood.

“My dad used to shave us kids. Then mom took over. I think that’s why I got into the business – for revenge,” he laughed.

Rick’s Island Salon and Day Spa, at the Esplanade, employs 36, and offers a wide array of salon services, focusing on hair, skin and nails. Therapeutic body massage, waxing services, facials, collagen and liposome treatments, the “ultimate relaxation spa pedicure,” and just for the guys, the “gentleman’s pedicure,” are available, along with a full range of hair cutting, coloring and retexturizing (whatever that is).

“We have a diverse group of stylists, with all ages from the 20s to the 60s,” said Rick Popoff, “so there’s someone here for anyone, no matter what style or treatment you’re looking for.”

For more information on spa services, or to make an appointment for your back-to-schooler’s free haircut, call Rick’s Island Salon and Day Spa at (239) 642-6696.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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