Business Profile – Aniara

By Mary Martineau

Lynn Merckle has been styling hair for 35 years. Her welcoming boutique salon, Aniara, has occupied a corner of West Third and Michigan avenues for 21 years. Lynn began her career in a Grandview salon working for someone else. When she decided to strike out on her own, she wanted to stay close to her original location for the convenience of her clients. Lynn loved the Harrison West area and felt very fortunate to find a fantastic space in the historic brick building (nebulously listed as “old” on the auditor’s website) at 444 West Third Ave. When she moved in, the neighborhood was still a little “rough around the edges,” and the only other businesses on the strip were a couple of bars and the Michigan Market. Lynn could see the seeds of change growing in the neighborhood, though, and planted the roots of the salon right in the middle of Harrison West.

The salon’s name, “Aniara,” comes from Swedish folklore and refers to the color of the sun as it rises and sets. Within the exposed brick walls, the space is decorated in warm colors. Lynn and stylist Allison Bair specialize in cutting and coloring hair. Their clients range from devotees who followed Lynn from Grandview more than three decades ago to Ohio State students, Battelle employees and, naturally, a plethora of Harrison West residents. I can attest to the attachment that clients feel toward Aniara. I was introduced to the salon some 17 years ago when one of my former college roommates was getting married. She was from Pataskala but has been a loyal client of Aniara since she was a teenager. Before her wedding, she arranged for our group of friends to have our hair done with her at the Harrison West salon. Since then, she has had three kids, all of whom received their first haircut from Lynn. Her husband still sees Allison every couple months to keep his hair tamed.

With a history spanning two decades in Harrison West, Lynn has witnessed dramatic changes in the neighborhood. When she arrived, the inhabitants were primarily long-term residents. Lynn has observed that as more homes are renovated and the Harrison Park project progresses, the youthfulness of the population has increased, and the climate has shifted to that of a “hipper and more urban” neighborhood. Lynn likes the diversity of Harrison West and that it is a vibrant and active community close to downtown where she has been able to nurture her small business for twenty years. “From the time I’ve been here,” says Lynn, “Harrison West just keep getting better and better. I can only foresee more good things coming. The neighborhood is thriving, growing and improving, and I love being in the center of it all!”

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