PITTSBURG — When Brian Hendrickson first peeked inside what had been Beasley Tire, an historical building on the southeast corner of Ninth and Broadway in Downtown Pittsburg, it looked about as far removed from a beauty salon as anything could be.

That was 2002, when his wife, Kelli, was pregnant with their second daughter, Ella — a full seven years before the City of Pittsburg completed a $3 million downtown streetscape project, and long before anyone could imagine the downtown being a destination, let alone a thriving one.

“I could see the potential in the shop and in the town,” Brian recalled. “But this far surpasses anything I could have envisioned.”

Today, Brian, Kelli, their daughters, and Brian’s mother, Nancy, own and operate the vibrant Salon 9 that pulls clients in from as far away as Tulsa, Okla., and the Kansas City area.

But there’s another, more personal reason Brian is glad he and his family took the leap to invest their own business 17 years ago.

“We have three generations working here, side by side, and I can’t imagine anything better, anything that’s more fulfilling,” he said.

Brian grew up in Pittsburg and attended Pittsburg High School, where he showed talent in hair and makeup and was recruited by a teacher to help backstage with school plays. Like other local youths, he considered moving on after graduating in 1987. But only briefly.

Feeling the pull to turn his talents into a career, he earned a certificate at Fort Scott Community College’s Pittsburg School of Cosmetology, 831 N. Broadway — right across the street from Beasley’s little brick tire shop.

He and his mother, who also attended the school, operated a salon out of her home for a few years — he doing hair and her doing nails — and saw that they had a good working relationship.

“It was a natural partnership,” Brian said. “Opening a larger shop just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Today, it is a full-service salon that sees a steady stream of customers and employs nine.

Among them: Isabel, Ella’s older sister.

Isabel graduated from PHS in May 2018, then completed her certificate at Fort Scott Community College in December, following in her dad’s and grandma’s footsteps.

She joined the salon full time in January as a stylist and nail technician. One Saturday in April found her doing makeup for 18 Pittsburg High School students headed to their prom. Other days, she’s serving second- and third-generation clients.

“I couldn’t be more proud to work here,” Isabel said. “It’s part of who I am.”

Kelli, a teacher for the SEK Interlocal at George Nettels Elementary, is the salon’s business manager, doing all of the book work.

Ella, now 16, is the salon’s go-fer, doing errands and assisting where help is needed.

Brian recalls watching his parents’ generation improve the Pittsburg community, and now is thrilled to see that improvement go to the next level.

“It’s exciting to be part of it — the reinvention of our downtown,” he said. “I’m proud to be here. I wouldn’t trade raising our kids here, or being a part of this progressive movement Pittsburg is experiencing, for anything. I’m glad I stayed.”