Charles Reighard went back-to-school shopping with his granddaughters last week.
He normally would be chatting up clients at Hair Loft by Charles on East Calder Way in State College, but he’d handed over the keys Wednesday after running the business for 32 years.
“It was sort of ironic,” Reighard said. “The place I started from is coming back and taking over my business, and they’re expanding.”
Reighard’s career began at Pietro’s, the salon that has purchased the business.
He opened Hair Loft in 1982 when his aspirations of becoming a partner with Pietro’s didn’t come to fruition. Eager to explore more opportunities, he opened his hair salon at the same time he started a family.
“I wanted to grow and open my own business, because I was raising a family,” Reighard said. “I told Pietro’s I gave them five years to make me partner, and it was time to move on. That was a wish back in those days.”
A wish turned into a thriving business on East College Avenue, where he stayed for 19 years before moving the salon to Calder Way. The hairstyles of the 1980s have long disappeared, but Reighard laughs when he talks about the big hair men and women desired then.
“There were a lot mullets and Farrah Fawcetts in those days and some leftover afros, so lots of big, big hair,” Reighard said.
Reighard wanted his salon to buck the industry trend of stylists jumping from one place to another.
“You just had to have a good work ethic,” he said. “I was proud. I wasn’t out to steal other stylists, so I trained mine. I was very much into education.”
He also wanted to give more women of an opportunity.
“Girls used to get a bad reputation, because people thought they were high school dropouts or whatever,” Reighard said. “Some of mine had gone to college, and some wanted to learn cosmetology out of high school. There’s a few girls that left and started their own salons. It was seven years before any of my girls left, and I was proud I didn’t lose them to other places.”
Tshana Myers was the first stylist Reighard hired in 1982, and one of six to open their own salon locally. She worked for Reighard for seven years before she opened Cutting Edge on Commercial Boulevard.
“He was a lot of fun and someone who was in the profession forever,” Myers said. “Had I not worked for him I don’t know that I would have grown and been able to move on to open my own salon. We’ve talked, and I’ve told him we could have worked many years together.”
Myers said she saw Reighard’s retirement coming.
“I’m very happy for him that it’s on his own terms, because I knew it’d be coming at some point,” Myers said. “Unfortunately, our bodies do give out from this business, and he worked full time all of the time. I hope he has a happy, healthy retirement.”
Reighard’s retirement doesn’t mean he’ll stop cutting hair.
He told Tina Pellicciotta, who operates Pietro’s, he’d help if she ever were in a pinch. He also told some friends and family he would cut their hair on occasion.
It doesn’t surprise Pellicciotta.
“To give you an idea of what Charles is like, when my father died three years ago on a Tuesday morning he was on our front doorstep with a basket of bagels and cream cheese for my mother and our family,” Pellicciotta said. “He’s still giving me advice, and he’s even offered if I need some help he’ll come to work.”
Pellicciotta plans to open Pietro’s Downtown, previously known as Hair Loft by Charles, on Aug. 18 after minor renovations are complete. The expansion is happening on the 50th anniversary that her father, Pietro, first opened Pietro’s in State College.
“It’s neat they’re expanding now, because Pietro’s is going to have their 50th anniversary,” Reighard said. “It’s hard calling it quits, though, and giving up my clients.
“My clients are more than clients. They’re friends. It was a wonderful time, because there is camaraderie there and having chit-chats with them, so I have to say thank you to my customers, my friends.”