Mary Salas was born to style hair.
As a child growing up in her native Greece, she never met a doll that didn’t need a complete makeover.
“I had a passion,” says Salas. “I wanted to go to school to become a stylist, but in Greece at the time, the men were the hairstylists. I was told I should become a seamstress instead.”
Needless to say, Mary was thrilled when her family immigrated to the United States at age 16. She and her sisters moved in with family members in Savin Hill and she came of age in a three-decker at 99 Sydney Street that’s since been destroyed by fire.
Ten years later, after honing her skills at a shop in Lower Mills, she opened her own salon in the heart of Adams Corner. Last Thursday, Mary quietly marked her 25th anniversary in business.
In a district that’s seen its share of comings and goings over the last quarter-century, Mary Salas’ Hair Image has become a fixture. And the woman herself? She’s become a coiffure consigliore and all-around-confidante to three generations of customers— the large majority of them from the immediate neighborhood.
She muses— only half in jest— that she’s married to the business and the village itself.
“The neighborhood changes every so often, but I absolutely love it here,” says Salas, who has a vacation home in Greece that she rarely sees. “I have families who’ve been with me since day one. They call me their fountain of youth.”
The color accents and curling irons aren’t all that’s changed since the late 1980s when she first hung out her shingle on Adams Street. The McCarthy’s shoe store across the street gave way to an Irish bakery, Greenhills, that’s become a regional destination. The Eire Pub’s welcomed another president and assorted senators. And the old hardware store on the corner of Minot once run by Mr. Blasi has been reinvented as a popular Italian eatery by his sons.
The latest new eatery on the block is a hot dog and soul food take-out restaurant— right next door to Mary’s Hair Image— that is fast becoming a local favorite.
“I really like to see these new businesses coming in. It helps the pre-existing businesses survive and become stronger. I love the challenge of competition myself.”
“I’m especially excited about the Boston Sports Club,” said Salas, referring to the fitness club that has signed a ten year lease to occupy space that housed a Rite-Aid pharmacy until last spring. The club will open next spring, but construction to resurface and improve the village’s main parking lot is already underway.
“Mr. Cifrino has been very generous,” Salas says of Tom Cifrino, the man who manages the realty trust that owns the parking lot and adjacent building. “I think two hours of parking is very reasonable on that lot, because it is private property.”
Salas has no immediate plans to set aside her scissors. But she’s interested in one day passing the business off to another worthy operator. She’d like to spend a few months out of the year back in her native country.
“Hair Image is my baby, so I want to make sure it continues in the right hands,” she says.