For Montclair Local


Robin Woods is a local girl-about-town, writing about activities, stores, restaurants, and interesting people that catch her eye. She’s written memoirs and personal essays as well as music and fashion columns for various NYC newspapers. 

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I'm not vain about many things, but I admit to lavishing attention on maintaining my hands and feet. I am always happy to receive compliments about my beautifully manicured nails. A more recent convert to pedicures, I never enjoyed having my feet touched, but I do now.

My curiosity was piqued as I walked by Salon A on Fairfield Street, which opened in May 2019, and I thought about the many nail salons in Montclair.

After walking in and sitting down for a long chat with owner David Kim, I found a new twist to the usual services offered. I haven't seen many men who own or work in nail salons. David started off doing manicures and pedicures in other salons after coming to New Jersey from South Korea in 1982 and working in spas to learn the ins and out of the business. With a background in construction, the salon shows David's interesting and somewhat offbeat sense of design. He built and furnished the interior of the shop himself. From a leopard print settee and red barbershop chair in front where eyebrow threading is done, to the unusual and gorgeous shimmering mother-of-pearl rainbow porcelain pedicure foot sinks in a rear room, I saw colors and patterns everywhere, even on shelves on the walls where 700 shades of nail polish wait for you to make a choice.

David supervises and manages the salon, while his partner Hetal Patel performs eyebrow and facial threading, and Marili Perez does manicures, pedicures and waxing. With five other salons in the immediate area, David said that “Salon A is the only one currently offering threading services.”





Hetal was trained in India to do threading, which was much gentler and less painful to me. Threading is newer to the United States, but it's been used for centuries in Asia. A piece of thread is used, by twisting and gliding it along the brow to shape it. There is a distinct rhythm to the process, as Hetal moved in a dance-like motion as she went from side to side on my brows. I mimicked Hetal's dancing motions but the intricacies of using the thread alluded me. I'm a convert to threading, and don't miss feeling as if the top of my head is being torn off during waxing my extremely meager and light-colored brows, which will never be thick or shaped into arches.

I always get gel manicures, as gel polish, dried under ultraviolet light, lasts at least three weeks. You can choose a plain manicure, which lasts two weeks. I select color to use before my appointment, and bring it along to match at the salon, just in case I chip a nail. Marili spent 40 minutes on my manicure and 30 minutes more on my pedicure. I have beautiful hands and tootsies, and plan to go without wearing gloves or closed shoes as long as I can into the fall and winter season to show them off.

David's slogan is, “We like to serve people, to make them happy and pretty.” 

I was humming “I Feel Pretty” as I left the salon.

Robin Woods considers her shoe options at Fleet Feet NEIL GRABOWSKY/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL


I don't like to drive, and walk everywhere I need to go in the downtown area. It's good excercise, since I don't run unless someone is chasing me. With my love of shoes, it was inevitable that I visited Fleet Feet on Bloomfield Avenue to find out more about the best shoes for me.

John Fabbro and his wife Dawn opened their store in Montclair in 1987, and have a passion for being active. John said, “We want to keep people moving, and we want you to wear out your shoes.” 

John Fabbro (owner) sizes Robin Woods' feet up for a new pair of running shoes at Fleet Feet NEIL GRABOWSKY/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

How do you know what size you wear? John showed me the Fit ID machine in the store, which measures the whole foot, your stance, your arch, and your balance. It was interesting and fun standing on it, and watching the computerized program drawing an exact picture of my feet before analyzing the data. My right foot is a size 5, and my left is size 5.1D. I asked about the Brannock shoe measuring device that I was used to, that heavy metal instrument that you step onto to see the size and width of your feet. John still keeps one in the store, and showed me how to measure his feet, which are a dainty size 13.

Fleet Feet carries shoes for adult men and women, for walking, running, track, jogging and more. Racks of active shoes hang on the walls, myriad colors and styles from which to choose. My vertigo made me opt for flat-to-the-ground sneakers, which don't rock as I walk. John introduced me to his daughter Brianna, a fit specialist at the store. I asked her to bring out a few pairs of shoes in my size to try on. Unused to expensive, well-made sneakers in my exact size, they felt wide, large and clunky to me. I remembered what John said, “Shoes should feel invisible on your foot, and make you feel the positive symmetry.” All of them made me very aware of my feet, but I am keeping a few styles in mind for the future as I get used to choosing shoes by their fit, and not only for color and fashion.

I'm ready to discover more new places and interesting people in Montclair, while looking pretty and feeling fit at the same time.


In this column:

  • Salon A
    46 Fairfield St.