GREENFIELD — If the walls of Northgate Beauty Salon could talk, they’d be full of lots of laughter, tears and a few secrets.
“You know how it is in a beauty shop,” joked owner Becky Colip. “We’re (clients’) friends, doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers and everything else.”
The shop has seen its fair share of good, bad and ugly memories in the 50 years since it opened in 1961 in a small space at the back of Northgate Plaza. Four years later, the salon moved to its permanent home: a yellow house on Ellis Drive in the plaza.
Stylists and clients have come and gone; they’ve seen deaths, births, marriages and everything in between – all of it, Colip said, adding up to lots of great memories.
Those are the things Colip, her stylists and their core of longtime clients will take with them when that old yellow house gets Northgate and the Chicago’s Pizza that sits in front of it on State Street will be torn down by the shopping plaza owner, making way for a larger Chicago’s that will open in the fall.
With all their happy memories and, hopefully, clients, the women of Northgate will move out of the yellow house, across State Street and into a new space in McKenzie Plaza.
It will simply mark a new era for the shop.
“A lot of people think this is an old people’s shop because we’ve been here so long,” said Adeen Hargrove, stylist at Northgate for more than 40 years. “I’m hoping we’re going to get rid of that image.”
The shop is taking steps toward that effort, too. For starters, Colip is changing the name. Her salon will now be called All About You Family Hair Care, to better reflect salon’s clientele.
“We do it all,” she said.
Clients at Northgate are both men and women and range from little kids, she said, to 100-year old Maria Dalidowicz, who came in Friday for the shampoo and style she looks forward to every other week.
“She loves getting her hair done,” said Pat Dalidowicz, Maria’s daughter-in-law and the one who brings her to the appointments.
Colip has also recently hired a new crop of young stylists. When Colip found out her home away from home would be torn down, she thought about calling it quits. But, she said, her young stylists inspired her to keep it going. In them she sees a way to carry on the shop’s 50-year legacy.
“I look at them, and I see a future,” Colip said.
In the very beginning, the work was hard, hours were long and cuts cost $1.50, but “we had fun,” remembered Daleen Thomas, the salon’s first hire who came back Friday to see the shop one last time.
“It used to be that everybody had a cup of coffee sitting around,” Thomas remembered. “You just grabbed a cup and took a glug. You never knew if you were going to get cream, cream and sugar, sugar or just black.”
It was in 1966, when the shop moved to its current location, when Nina Zapf said the family atmosphere really started to build. Zapf retired just three years ago, but came back Friday to reminisce with current stylists Hargrove, Colip and Sandy Reed – all of whom have ties to Northgate going back 40 years or more.
“Even though we’re not sisters by blood, we’re sisters here,” Colip said.
“It’s always been that way,” Zapf added, “like a family.”
Colip was hard-pressed to hold back her emotions Friday during the “tearing down the house” party. But there’s excitement there too, she said.
“I’ve always been excited,” Colip said. “And we’ve had a good run.”
That excitement is growing now that the new salon has received all of its permits and approvals. Colip was at first expecting to be shut down for a month or more, but her husband Tim Colip – who’s doing much of the build-out inside the new space – said they could open in McKenzie Plaza as soon as Aug. 21.
“It’s getting there,” he said. “Everything will be OK.”
Friday was the last day for clients at Northgate. Many, like Leda Leary, took the day as an opportunity to get in their last appointment before the brief shutdown. Leary said she’ll be looking forward to following Colip to All About You.
“I’ve been with her forever,” Leary said.
“And I know where to find you if you don’t,” Colip joked with her client and friend.
The line between client and friend blurs often, Colip said. Some were friends first and clients second; some the other way around.
“If they weren’t at the start, they’re friends now,” she said.
The Colips will spend the weekend getting equipment out of the old salon to take to the new. Some things, though, will stay. Colip has ordered all new flooring, cabinets and stations for All About You.
And of course the last 40 years of gossip that have flown through Northgate’s walls – all of those secrets will stay, too.
“There’s a lot of memories here,” Colip said, “in these walls…”