Elegance Salon says goodbye after 35 years
DARIEN — Through the years 1958 Post Road has been an antique store, a gift shop, the Noroton Post Office and even home to goats. But for the past 35 years, it’s been home to Elegance Salon, a hairdressing business owned by 73-year-old Frank Corrente of Darien.
On Saturday, after 50 years in business, Elegance Salon will be closing its doors for the final time. On Jan. 1, the property will be turned over to a developer who will be knocking down the building to construct new apartments and business spaces.
Corrente opened his business in Stamford in November 1966 when he charged $6 for a woman’s haircut. Rent hikes 10 years later caused Corrente to consider buying his current space in Darien.
“I can’t double my prices,” he said about his move to Darien. “I realized if (my landlord) could do it then, he could do it again in another 10 years.”
Corrente borrowed money to buy the building at 1958 Post Road in 1976. It took him another five years to gut the building and renovate it, so it was in shape for him to move his business.
Many business owners would shy away from Corrente’s space, a discrete ranch that looks like someone’s home located on the side of the busy Post Road, separate from the other strip of local businesses across the street. But Corrente said it was precisely this location that appealed to him, saying there are “no downsides” to the white house that the salon calls home.
“I think this is the best place for my business,” he said. “We’re a destination business. We don’t depend on people walking by. People come here because they want us. We’re established.”
Lia DeNey of New Canaan said she was recommended to go to one of the stylists at Elegance Salon two years and has been a customer there ever since then.
“It’s a convenient location to where I live in New Canaan,” she said. “They’re just very professional and it’s a great price point and they do a really good job.”
Customer recommendations have kept the business going over the years. Corrente says he lost business when he moved from Stamford, but what he lost in street traffic, he made up for in new customers from communities such as Norwalk, Greenwich and of course, Darien. The new location in Darien appealed to customers with Corrente’s talents and a small parking lot where they could easily reach their cars after having their hair done without having to expose it to the elements.
Corrente himself has been calling Darien home since he moved there from Stamford when he was 13, but he said the town has also been a wonderful home for his business.
“I think Darien’s a great town to have a salon,” he said. “The majority of people are conservative with how they want their hair cut and colored. I think it’s a really good town for hair.”
Corrente’s salon mimics the town’s simple nature. He started his business primarily shampooing and setting hair and moved into blow drying when it became popular in the 1960s. But Corrente shied away from popular salon expansions, such as nail salons and spas, preferring to focus on cutting hair. He said he stopped attending hair shows because he found himself never using the styles on his clients, preferring their more classic cuts.
Corrente says he plans to continue cutting hair part-time in Stamford after closing his business, trading in work hours for more time for fishing.
“I never want to stop doing hair,” he said of the trade he picked up as a teenager.
Corrente opted to sell the salon and close the business over passing the institution on because of the age of the building.
“The building is old,” he said. “It needs a face-lift.”
“The timing was perfect,” he added. “I’ve been in business 50 years this year. I wanted out of owning a business.”
Corrente said he’ll be sad to see the structure go down and his customers are also disappointed to see him go. But he feels it’s time to let the salon go and let the space make way for a new business in town.
“It’s been nice here,” he said. “I’m sure I’m going to be sad when the building comes down. It’s going to be tough. It’s something I’ve worked hard at for 40 years.”