Pretty in the City - Bare Basics at European Wax Center

It was the dude in the middle of Kendall Drive who got me. He stood on the middle of the center island, right in the middle of the hustle and bustle near the Town and Country Mall, waving a red sign. “FREE WAXING,” the sign said. Forget where I was going, how could I pass an opportunity like that up?

I followed the sign to a brand new branch of the European Wax Center, hidden away in the excitingly named Kendall Plaza #124 (at the back of Barnes & Noble, within eyeshot of the Starlight Diner). To lure new customers, the place is offering free bikini, eyebrow, or underarm wax for first-time visitors. My bikini experience at Uni K. Wax still haunted me, so I decided to stay safe and go for the underarms – a typically $14 for free. Sweet!

Whereas an establishment like Coconut Grove’s Wax On, Wax Off, or its Kendall-area rival Aqua Day Spa, seeks to impress and welcome customers with champagne, or juice and cookies – the European Wax Center offers one of those bells and whistles. This was a strictly utilitarian experience. “Do you guys have water or anything?” I asked, parched from the summer heat. “There’s a fountain in back,” the store manager piped up. Alrighty, then.

That gave me a chance to check the place out a bit. Not that there was anything to check out – like I said, this is a bare bones, very sterile waxerie. A short hallway studded with frosted glass doors, and a water fountain next to a unisex bathroom. No art, no soft music, nothing to shout about.

Soon enough, my waxer came to meet me. Her name was Mary, and she’s from Venezuela so we had plenty to chat about. "I’m from Trinidad," was all I needed to say before we dove into a conversation about our neighboring corner of the world. While we discussed mass migration and the effects of Chavez, Mary painted my pits with dark purple wax. No strips of cloth here, that’s the European Wax Center motto.

"You no problem?" she asked, to ascertain whether or not I’d be a problem waxer. "Not with armpits," I replied. Seriously, by now I swear I have no nerve endings there anymore. The thick purple wax dried, and it was rip, rip, rip. Smooth as a baby. Walking out to receive a receipt with all zeros on it felt great.

European Wax Center makes a great hurry-up-I-gotta-go-somewhere emergency wax salon, and there are perks – refer a friend and get $10 off your next visit, or get a silver or gold pass to earn free treatments. But if you’re looking to be plied with champagne, cookies, and coddling, you might need to keep on looking.

- Patrice Yursik

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