Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day!
A chain of organic nail salons that has taken Paris by storm will be moving into the space recently vacated by Fresh Market in Palo Alto's Edgewood Plaza, property manager John Tse announced Tuesday.
The Salon OOF! (Salon d'Ongle Organique du France!) has been looking to open on the West Coast and selected Palo Alto due to its high per-capita income and environmentalist roots, said Philippe du Monde, vice president of marketing for Northern America.
"We pride ourselves in being the first and the best salon with products entirely organique, from the nail polish to the polish remover. We think the personal beauty of the women and the sustainability of the earth must absolument go hand in hand," du Monde told the Weekly.
The products, developed by Salon OOF! scientists, shun the so-called "toxic trio" that are used in traditional nail products: toulene, dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde. Instead, the polishes have been artisanally engineered using hydrolyzed sea kelp, silk from Catalan silkworms and keratin from the hair of Andalusian mountain goats.
"We have villagers who for years have made their livelihood collecting these materials for native crafts. We've repurposed those ingredients so that the village people now earn three times as much. Our products are not only certified organic, they are fair trade," du Monde touted.
The former market's high ceiling will accommodate a signature feature of all Salon OOF! spas: the "butterfly canopy," in which 1,000 winged creatures will roam freely overhead, du Monde said. He described the atmosphere of the salon as "tranquil, like a walk in the meadow on a sunlit day."
Palo Alto residents reacted quickly to the news, with many embracing the 20,000-square-foot beauty emporium.
"There just aren't enough nail salons in the city," said Debbie Utante, who lives in the adjacent Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood. "I can't get a decent mani-pedi. So I'm all for it. I'm sure the French know how to do nails."
But controversy has already erupted, with some local environmentalists saying the salon isn't sustainable enough.
"Paris to Palo Alto is far -- it's like 5,500 miles. And all those products are being transported here. That's a lot of carbon being emitted in transportation," said Dirk Petermeier. "Couldn't they figure out a way to make their nail polishes out of local materials, like compost?"
Neighbors who wanted a grocery store to replace Fresh Market pledged this week to circulate a petition to block the lease.
"We don't need some fancypants French nail place; we need a store nearby to get bread and steak," resident Jack Terrier said, rolling his eyes. "My wife's nails look just fine the way they are!"
But interior renovations for the salon are already proceeding, and du Monde said this week that Salon OOF!'s grand opening is scheduled for April 22 -- Earth Day.