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ANCHORAGE - Posters of glam girls and guys with sultry eyes and lush hair line the walls of JC Penney Salon. Health worker Marcia Aceveda of Kake, a Tlingit village about 100 air miles southwest of Juneau, didn't need anything that exotic. She was just happy not to have to cut off her own hair.
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"Just even it out," she told her stylist, settling into the black, plastic-covered chair.
There are no professional hair stylists in Kake, although once Aceveda traded some fish and Indian food for an "all right" cut from a visiting beautician.
A stop at the brightly lit, yet soothing Penney Salon was high on the to-do list for her trip to Anchorage this week for the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.
Lots of AFN women had the same idea, said salon manager Debbie Brooker, who put out cookies and doughnuts and a welcome sign. A normal Wednesday brings maybe $2,000 in sales. This past Wednesday, AFN participants jacked up the volume to about $5,500, she said. Some other days were even busier.
"It's nice to be working hard," said Aceveda's hairdresser, Esther Karasch, who planned to work seven days this week instead of the usual five.
Beverly Ryder, an eight-year Penney stylist, said it's a fun time.
"A lot of people know each other" and see fellow villagers or family in the salon, she said.
Renee Douglas from Kotzebue said she hadn't had her hair done in a year.
With strands of hair wrapped in silver foils, she was ready to drop about $135 for a cut and her first professional highlights - caramel coloring blended into her natural rich brown tones.
How big a deal is it?
"It's big," she said. "I'm traveling with a group of elders. They're in conference now. I snuck out to get my hair done."