PROVO The controversial hair salon Bikini Cuts is coming to Utah County.
And that means more controversy.
When Bikini Cuts opened in a Sandy strip mall in 2003, angry residents and neighbors protested the existence of the salon, where women clad in bikini-tops cut and style hair for $25.
Bikini Cuts owner Bethany Prince is expecting more of the same when the salon opens in Utah County. And she can't wait.
"Any publicity is good publicity for us," Prince said.
Utah County has the reputation of being one of the most conservative places in the state, if not the country. Residents have protested racy window displays at Victoria's Secret, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore's speech at Utah Valley State College, and most recently, the availability of an alternative newspaper at the Provo City Library.
"While there are a lot of people here who are tolerant and open-minded, I think (Bikini Cuts) would be a real test," said Provo Councilman Dave Knecht.
Prince won't say where she plans to open the new shop, out of fear that someone will threaten the landlord. She did say the salon will open in Provo or Orem, and with negotiations under way, that could happen in as few as 60 days.
"This isn't the type of business we would welcome and encourage in Orem, but as long as they are legal, they do have rights," said Orem Mayor Jerry Washburn. "But we would monitor them very closely and make sure they stayed in their legal bounds."
Despite Utah County's reputation, Prince thinks her salon will do well there.
"We've done extremely well in Sandy, and we were protested horribly there," she said. "I think most of the people who protest don't know what we're really about. They think we're doing something immoral or illegal. All we're doing is giving a haircut."
Others aren't so sure the salon will last in Utah County.
"I'm pretty sure they won't do very well," said Rachelle Munns, a student at the Paul Mitchell hair styling school. "I wouldn't want to do it, but our industry is based on tips, so some people will do whatever it takes to get tips."
Brittney Tueller, a hair stylist in Provo, also said she thinks the salon will struggle to stay afloat. She said when she worked at the Gap, women regularly came in to complain about window displays.
"And that was the Gap," she said.Comment on this story
While Prince welcomes controversy as free publicity, she thinks those that protest her business need to lighten up."Basically we wear bikini tops. If people don't like it, they don't have to come in," she said.