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If Main Street is going to be saved, enduring American vanity will be among the primary reasons.

Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

What's happening: Nail and waxing salons — in addition to pet grooming shops, cosmetics stores, tattoo parlors and gyms — stand out as improbable avatars of the future of retail, surviving and thriving amid the decades-long annihilation of mom-and-pop apparel, book and hardware stores.

By the numbers:

  • Between 1990 and 2017, the number of nail salons for every 100,000 Americans nearly tripled, from fewer than 2 to nearly 7.
  • Pet grooming surged by one-and-a-half-times, and cosmetics almost doubled.

A common theme among the victors: The offerings can't be easily replicated online.

The big picture: The mainstays of retail — the mall and Main Street — have been picked apart by Walmart, discount chains like Dollar General, and, of course, Amazon. Now brick-and-mortar stores are stabilizing, and the industry is climbing out of the rubble to survey what has worked.

They are aggressively curating inventory, meticulously upgrading existing shops, adding entertainment features like trampoline parks, free food and drink and, of course, providing hair, nail and cosmetic services.

"The stores that will do well are the ones that know how to get you to leave your house.”
— Natalie Bruss, partner at Fifth Wall Ventures, a retail investment firm

On the ground:

  • Nordstrom Local, a new concept by the Los Angeles department store, has no inventory — you shop online and just pick up in store — but draws clients with free beer, wine, and consultations with personal stylists.
  • Kellogg’s has opened a pop-up cereal bar in New York City.
  • Away, the new luggage brand, puts up elaborate sets that serve as the perfect backdrops for Instagram photos.

Noteworthy: The boom in nail salons has been accompanied by labor abuses and human trafficking.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Health

The floodgates have opened for vaccine mandates

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

State governments, private businesses and even part of the federal government are suddenly embracing mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for their employees.

Why it matters: Vaccine mandates have been relatively uncommon in the U.S. But with vaccination rates stagnating and the Delta variant driving yet another wave of cases, there's been a new groundswell of support for such requirements.

Ina Fried, author of Login
47 mins ago - Sports

Axios at the Olympics: Softball on the brink

Cat Osterman, pitching here against Japan on Monday, came out of retirement to play in the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: ina Fried

TOKYO – When the U.S. and Japan take the field in Yokohama on Tuesday, they are playing for more than just a gold medal. As badly as both teams want to win, they also want to show the world their sport deserves a permanent place in the Olympics.

Why it matters: Softball is returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, but its long-term Olympic future is uncertain, with the sport not part of the 2024 Games in Paris and plans up in the air after that.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Naomi Osaka eliminated from Olympic Games tennis tournament

Czech 42nd-ranked Marketa Vondrousova (L) shakes hands with Japan's Naomi Osaka after their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka was eliminated from the Olympics Games after losing her Tokyo tennis tournament match 6-1, 6-4 in the third round to Czech Marketa Vondrousova on Tuesday.

Of note: Japan's Osaka is the women's world No. 2, while is Vondrousova ranked No.42.