LaRosa's Hair Cuts closes after 46 years in Ligonier
Literally overnight LaRosa's Hair Cuts was transformed into Diamond Hair Cuts.
Barber May LaRosa retired after six decades in the hair cutting business. LaRosa's last day at the shop just off the Diamond at 108 W. Main St. was April 27.
Three days later new owner Stephanie Reese was open for business, after a fresh coat of paint and slight changes to the decor.
“The tough part will be not seeing my customers all the time,” said LaRosa. “I have a lot of customers who are like family to me. I want to thank them all for patronizing me all these years.”
LaRosa and her late husband John operated the barber shop since 1967.
John LaRosa started his career working at Urbanik's Barber Shop with Tom Horrell when he was just 25. May LaRosa said she began helping her husband at the shop in the early 1990s.
“He was sick so I stepped in to take over the customers, part time at first,” she said. “I helped him out and have been here ever since.”
LaRose said she was trained in cosmetology and learned barbery from her husband. He passed away in 2007.
“We worked together for 17 years here,” she said. “It was good to work as a team, maybe not everybody can do that.”
LaRosa said she averaged 15-20 hair cuts on a good day. She said some people come to the shop to converse with other customers.
“Some would not stop talking from the time they got here until the time they leave,” she said.
Then, others come in and don't say a word. If they don't make conversation, you get to know they don't want to talk.”
About working with the other barbers in town, LaRosa said it has never been a competition.
Everybody has their own people.
“We all got along and refer customers to another barber if we can't handle a customer's request,” she said and working with Urbanic's and Knupp's barber shop owners.
LaRosa said her three sons helped out at the shop in the past. However, none were interested in following their parents into the trade.
“When they were little, they would clean up the hair shavings and sweep the shop,” she said.
LaRosa has several reasons to look forward to retirement. She plans to spend more time with her grandchildren and purchase a new schnauzer puppy.
“I have two grandchildren ages 10 and 14. I plan to spend some time with them this summer,” she said. “And, the new puppy with give me a reason to get out and exercise. It will be something to do with my new companion.”
Reese of Johnstown chalks the business opportunity up to fate. She says it was just by chance that her boyfriend Paul Laskey saw LaRosa's ad in the Ligonier Echo.
She said she had been wanting to go out on her own for the last year, but never seemed to find the right time or right location.
Reese brings 30 years of experience to the shop. When she decided to start her own business, she left a 20-year career as a hair dresser with Salon Vision. For 10 years before that she worked at Salvatore's, both in Johnstown.
“I began barbering at the age of 17 as an apprentice for a traditional Italian barber,” she said. “I learned barbering with scissors and comb, the old fashioned technique of the old world style of cutting.”
She said her years at Salon Vision taught her how to be a businesswoman.
Reese said she came to see the shop on her 50th birthday and that convinced her that it was time of a change in her life.
“It was meant to be,” she said.
She has two grown children who are both finished with college and going on to their own careers.
“Now it's time for mom to get her dream,” she said.
Reese is looking forward to becoming a part of the Ligonier community.
“I have always been in love with Ligonier. This is my heart,” she said. “Every opportunity I had to come to Ligonier since I was a kid, I did it. Ligonier is the apple of my eye.”
When LaRose closed her shop last Saturday, Reese and Laskey went to work making the place into what she wanted to be.
“He builds high end homes for a living,” she said about Laskey. “So for him this was a easy, quick fix.”
They painted the walls white and tan and installed chair railing. She moved the mirrors around, repaired the counter and installed a new barber chair.
“I want it to have that old barber shop feel,” she said. “I want men and women to feel welcome so I tried to give a family feel to the shop.”
Reese offers dry hair cutting for men, hair cuts and styling for women and children.
She said she also offers updos for proms, weddings and other ocassions.
“It's fabulous to be in Ligonier on the Diamond,” she said. “That's why I had to call it Diamond Hair Cuts.”
The shop will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call 724-238-6507.
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.