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

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 21,243,513 — Total deaths: 766,488— Total recoveries: 13,272,162Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m ET: 5,314,814 — Total deaths: 168,462 — Total recoveries: 1,796,326 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus-connected heart ailment that could lead to sudden death in athletes.
  4. States: New York to reopen gyms, bowling alleys, museums.
  5. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  6. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Kamala Harris and the political rise of America's Indian community

Vice presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Democrats next week formally nominate the daughter of an Indian immigrant to be vice president, it'll be perhaps the biggest leap yet in the Indian American community's rapid ascent into a powerful political force.

Why it matters: Indian Americans are one of the fastest-growing, wealthiest and most educated demographic groups in the U.S. Politicians work harder every year to woo them. And in Kamala Harris, they'll be represented in a major-party presidential campaign for the first time.

3 hours ago - Health

The cardiac threat coronavirus poses to athletes

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cardiologists are increasingly concerned that coronavirus infections could cause heart complications that lead to sudden cardiac death in athletes.

Why it matters: Even if just a tiny percentage of COVID-19 cases lead to major cardiac conditions, the sheer scope of the pandemic raises the risk for those who regularly conduct the toughest physical activity — including amateurs who might be less aware of the danger.