It was a sleepy Saturday morning in Brooklyn Heights, with the post-yoga-and-brunch crowds still gathering steam for the day ahead, and Alfred Tom, an owner of The Heights Salon of Brooklyn, was carving out a pitch to his new neighbor, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
He paused to gather his thoughts. Then he offered a “no comment,” maybe hoping to endear himself to the famously guarded presumptive Democratic candidate for president. But the prospect of styling the hair of the first female president or some of her legion of arriving aides was too much to resist.
“I think it’s fine,” he said of Mrs. Clinton’s hairstyle, and then lowered his voice to a near-whisper: “But we can update.”
A day after news emerged that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was planning to set up headquarters on the edge of Brooklyn Heights in an office at One Pierrepont Plaza, setting the clock ticking on when she will have to file official candidacy papers, local business owners began speculating on how they might be put to use. Even as they swung open their doors and thought up new slogans and signs, they rehearsed the difficult work of keeping mum, lest they appear indiscreet to a candidate known for shielding her communications.
Mr. Tom mentioned that he had cut the hair of “a lot of executives and very powerful people,” and often saw a famous actress sitting outside on his block of Montague Street. But he motioned to a reporter to wipe his notebook clean when he was asked for more details.
“In this place we discourage gossip,” he said with a broad smile. “That’s why our clients love us.”
Nearby, Steven Kang, the manager at Best Cleaners on Henry Street, tried to prove himself an equally reliable keeper of sartorial secrets. He let slip the name of a recent mayoral candidate who used the shop’s services, only to put a finger over his mouth and elicit two promises that the candidate would not be named.
“We keep secrets,” Mr. Kang said, adding that Mrs. Clinton and her staff should also visit for fast, “nontoxic treatment.”
Across Brooklyn Heights, a traditionally well-off neighborhood, shop owners prepared for all of the possible contingencies that a year-and-a-half long campaign might bring.
Edward Shamalov, the owner of Azzuro Shoe Repair and Shine, said he was well-versed in the rigors of “emergency service” — the kind that could rescue an aide from an uncomfortable on-camera moment.
“We do broken heels,” he said. “Even if their button has fallen off, I can put it on. All while you wait.”
It may not hurt his case that his location of 16-and-a-half years has been 104 Clinton Street, just around the corner from campaign headquarters.
Carlo Scissura, the president and chief executive of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, had seemed to consider every finicky need, listing stationery stores, pet-walking services and eyeglass shops among the local industries that could enjoy a potential windfall. He said he would send a guide of suggested local businesses to the Clinton campaign once they moved in.
“And dentists,” he added. “I’ve worked on enough campaigns to know there’s a lot of garbage being eaten. Dentists will be doing well.”
Many business owners poked around for possible neglected spots within the vast apparatus of a Clinton campaign operation, while trying to avoid criticizing her.
“She could have the best makeup team in the world, but if her skin’s not in tiptop shape, it doesn’t matter,” said Diane Avitable, the resident aesthetician at City Chemist on Montague Street. Ms. Avitable suggested “more skin care,” hastening to add: “Not that she has bad skin. It’s the wear and tear of her lifestyle.”
Still, the challenges of welcoming a world-famous woman to a neighborhood of narrow streets and cramped real estate weighed on some shopkeepers.
“We’re going to have a lot less parking spaces, which we already won’t have,” said Estela Johannesen, a florist, as she rushed outside to move her car into a just-emptied spot.
And Tim Oltmans, the chef and owner of nearby Jack the Horse Tavern — “on the serious end of cocktails” — said he and his wife had already grappled with whether to address her as Secretary Clinton or Senator Clinton if she visits.
“My bookkeeper said call her Hillary,” he said, chuckling. “I’m not sure that’s quite right.”
One point of agreement among shopkeepers was that their neighborhood better reflected Mrs. Clinton’s stateliness than their borough’s overall reputation as a hip, post-college landing spot.
While landlords in Brooklyn Heights like emphasizing “the hip angle” in search of higher rents, Joan Byron, policy director of the Brooklyn-based Pratt Center for Community Development, said, “it’s a little geriatric for that.”
Even as they prepared to try to wring extra profit out of Mrs. Clinton’s throngs of consultants, some shopkeepers could not resist getting hooked on the idea of sharing the sidewalk with the potential first female president.
Mr. Tom, the hairstylist, showed off a ring marking his 10-year anniversary with his “life partner,” Rafael Nieves, who was cutting hair several feet away. He grew a bit sentimental as he recalled meeting Mrs. Clinton at a gay pride parade in New York. “She came right up to me,” he said. “She shook my hand.”
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