RochesterJuly 11, 2012
The final cut
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
ROCHESTER — Every Thursday for the past 22 years, 79-year-old Mary Ellen Harris has made the trek from her home in Rochester to Reva’s Beauty Lounge, 339 Wilcox St.
“I come weekly, every Thursday unless they decide they are not going to be in because it’s a holiday, and then I have to come in Wednesday,” Harris said. “Everybody is friendly and nice, and they do a good job.”
On June 28, Harris and her dog, Coco, entered the salon just like any other Thursday, except this time, they did so with heavy hearts, knowing it was the last day the beloved neighborhood beauty lounge was open for business.
“I wanted to cry when I heard it was closing down. I still might, the day isn’t over yet,” she said. “I’m looking for a new place. I don’t have any idea where I’ll go right now. I’m in denial. That happens when you get older, you know.”
Over the years, Harris said, she has had just about everything done to her hair at the salon that one can — she’s had cuts, colors, perms, even blowouts, and she has been thrilled with the results.
“It’s been great for the older people because they’ll do what you want,” she said. “Some of the places you go to it’s like, OK, I don’t want to look like that when I leave — but they are wonderful.”
The building itself has long been a part of the neighborhood. It opened as Cook’s Market on Dec. 20, 1930, according to the Rochester Avon Historical Society. In 1939, Edward W. Alward bought the store, and it was known as Alward’s Market to more than two decades of families residing west of Main Street, as well as students attending school across the corner from the store — in what is now the Rochester Community Schools Administration Building.
“I went to high school across the road here. We used to run over here on our lunch hour. We didn’t have a McDonald’s and all that kind of stuff to go to,” Harris said, reminiscing about the former market. “The grocery store was here before we had all the big markets. We had A & P store and we had a Kroger, but we didn’t have Meijer and all those big stores.”
William S. Hurley bought the market in 1962 and operated it until the mid-1970s, according to the RAHS. The space is now known as Reva’s Beauty Lounge. After original owner Reva Goldsworthy passed away, a pair of sisters took over ownership for a number of years. When they moved on about five years ago, Debbie Guezen of Armada — who has been working at the salon on and off since 1978 — stepped up to run the place with the help of Nola Schlum of Royal Oak.
Schlum said the building has been on the market for a number of years and just finally sold.
“We knew it was going to happen, it was just a question of when,” she said of the salon’s closure.
“The building has been sold. We’re going to miss our clientele,” Guezen added.
Schlum said the salon has become a close-knit family to those who stepped inside its doors.
“It’s a family-oriented, friendly place. We take care of each other. In a lot of places, people aren’t dedicated,” she said. “A lot of the ladies are physically challenged because of their age, and everybody feels comfortable here. We have people that have been coming here for 47 years and more.”
The final day of business was a jam-packed one for Schlum and Guezen, who were busy serving clients and handing out tissues as everyone shared their stories.
“It’s really bittersweet. We knew it was coming, but until you get right to the end it doesn’t seem real,” Schlum said. “Everybody’s sad, everybody is feeling displaced, but everybody will be all right. … We love our people; we’re going to miss them. The salon has really been a mainstay here. We feel like we served a real purpose and we’re dedicated to each other, so we may show up somewhere again.”
Upon hearing the news of the sale, Harris said she wasn’t curious as to what would occupy the space in the future.
“I just wish it would stay the same. I don’t care what they do with it,” she said.
Robert Bloomingdale of Bloomingdale Construction — the company hired to renovate the interior and exterior of the building — said Rochester resident John Hawthorne bought the property as an investment.
“The operators of Reva’s were at the point where they wanted to retire, so it was good timing,” he said. “The new owner thought that the property wasn’t really at its full potential. He believes in the future of Rochester and wanted to invest in it.”
The building, which housed the salon on the lower level and a couple of apartments upstairs, will no longer feature a commercial space. It will be transformed into four large apartments for rent, which could be ready by September.
“It has high ceilings and some big spaces. It’s going to be totally updated and freshened,” Bloomingdale said.
Bloomingdale’s company does a lot of work in the city, and he said he always tries to maintain the character of the neighborhoods.
“We do a lot of vintage style architecture, and that’s what he’s going to do with the exterior of the building,” he said.
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