Anita Weber has seen many hairstyles come and go in the 54 years she’s been serving customers at Anita’s Beauty Salon in Marion.
“Now customers want different colors,” she said. “I won’t say it’s good or bad. It’s just an individual choice.”
One time she did it wrong and it turned out badly. She added color to the blonde hair of her minister’s wife, and it turned reddish.
“She wore a green hat to a special program at Durham, and her sister looked at her and said ‘Merry Christmas,’” Weber said.
The woman’s husband was not happy but didn’t get angry, she said, and the two women still are good friends.
Another time, when giving a permanent, Weber applied neutralizer before applying the setting solution. That didn’t work.
There are times when Weber has trouble creating a specific hairdo for a special occasion.
“Some people know exactly what they want,” she said, ‘but I don’t have the training to know how to do it.”
Occasionally, she has offered advice to her customers, suggesting a haircut or a curl.
“Most of the time, they have followed my advice,” she said.
When Weber, 87, started in 1963, she did a lot of backcombing, something that is rarely requested nowadays. She was open six days a week, had two stations, and hired two employees.
Now she is open just Thursdays and Fridays and works at St. Luke Living Center on Wednesdays.
Her customers range in age from the late 60s to the mid-90s. About a dozen come on a weekly basis, and another dozen come occasionally for a permanent or haircut.
She has one customer who she picks up for appointments and takes back home.
“My customers are all really good,” she said. “I enjoy every one of them. We are like family.”
When the business turned 50 years old in 2013, Weber and her husband, Virgil, gave a big party on their back patio for customers and their friends and families.
“We had a great time,” she said.
Although she hinted at the possibility a few years ago, Weber has no plans to retire.
“My daughter and her husband retired when she was 57, and I said, ‘Why are you retiring? You are too young to retire,’” she said. “I don’t want to retire. I want to keep going.”
That should reassure some of her customers for the time being.
“My customers ask me, ‘Where will we go when you are gone?’” she said. “I tell them there are five other hair salons in town.”