After 44 Years, The Hair Place Heads Out

When Betty Cabral and her husband Joe opened The Hair Place, they were the 2nd tenant in the Post Road strip mall after the anchor: Grand Union.

Their lease with owner Paul Kowalsky was sealed with a handshake.

Grand Union became Shaw’s. Now it’s Fresh Market. Dozens of other merchants came and left.

The Hair Place stayed.

Until now.

On July 31, Betty will close her long-running salon. The rent is going up — way up. There are new common charges, for the parking lot.

Financially, it’s just not worth it.

Betty Cabral and her brother, Carlo Palmer. He helped install the paneling -- 44 years ago -- with Betty's husband Joe.

Betty Cabral and her brother, Carlo Palmer. He helped install the paneling — 44 years ago — with Betty’s husband Joe.

Betty is a native Westporter. She and her brother, Carlo Palmer, grew up on Richmondville Avenue. She attended Bedford Elementary School (now Town Hall), Bedford Junior High (now King’s Highway Elementary) and — in 1955 — Staples (now Saugatuck El).

Like her brother Carlo — an industrial arts instructor at Staples, and other towns — Betty became a teacher (business education, at Stamford’s Rippowam High). She left when her children were born, then returned to work at Katharine Gibbs.

Her husband Joe was a 5th grade teacher in Stamford, but the Cabrals wanted to invest in a franchise. McDonald’s was too expensive, so they chose The Hair Place.

They opened in 1969, hiring a manager to run things. But they soon realized they had to be there themselves.

Hair PlaceWhen Joe died of pancreatic cancer, Betty took over. She prided herself on serving entire families — men, women and children. She’s now on her 3rd generation of customers.

“This is my home and my family,” she says with pride.

But it’s a home she’ll soon leave, after 44 years.

She is not sure what she’ll do next, but it will be something. “I can’t do nothing!” she says.

She extends a hearty “thank you!” to all her loyal customers, and many staff members.

“I’ve made so many good friends here,” Betty says. “I’ve had so many good experiences. It’s been wonderful.”

So has she.

10 responses to “After 44 Years, The Hair Place Heads Out

  1. Dan,

    Thank you for sharing this bitter-sweet story about a dear friend.

    Here’s one of the charming aspects of this town: that we may, over time, develop relationships with people, recognize them on the street, or even in the ‘news,’ feel a part of their family, as they, of course have become a part of ours.

    Darling Betty Cabral has, for so long, been an example of this small-town ‘family’ that we so cherish. When I opened your blog this morning and saw the photo, I knew who she was, like so many other pics that are part of your and other town news outlets. Growing up in a large, faceless city, this is such a blessing to be surrounded around those you know and see frequently, even if you don’t particularly know their names. You know them, you recognize them. They are not faceless.

    Betty, however, we DO know, not only from the Hair Place but from Assumption Church and as an active member within her neighborhood and community. She’s been a joy to not only my Mother, but also to my Husband and me and our Children, hence the 3 generational aspect of her participation in Westport applies to us, as well.

    We wish her well. Thank you, Dan, for bringing another charming bit of Westport to our day.

  2. Jo Ann Davidson

    I ‘m so sorry that Betty and her fine cutters have to leave. I don’t think good old Paul Kowalsky would have doubled the rent for a friend who was an “original”.

  3. It is always sad to see longtime local businesses fold. I still miss The Remarkable, Klein’s, our delicious soup spot and others. We are pricing ourselves out of the charm and friendliness that was Westport and becoming just another New York City satellite.

    How can we as a community band together to save our town? To promote locally-owned businesses? To offer an opportunity for these businesses to grow and thrive? The DMA is doing an excellent job but they cannot do it alone.

    As a small business owner in Wilton (and Westport resident), I will do what I can to help. Wilton is becoming a mecca for locally-owned stores; Westport needs to return to that feeling that made us special.

  4. The Hair Place always seemed like a big family who welcomed your visit with open arms. The employees appeared to really enjoy working there. How often does that happen?

  5. Old School Westport, what a wonderful face she has– hold on to what you can. Anyone who lived on Richmondville Avenue is gold in my book, my first Westport childhood street. What a neighborhood it was back in the day. Tons of ballgames, hide and seek, games of army, family bbq’s, scary old houses on hills said to be haunted by whom I have no idea but they were haunted, and it’s where the Big Top family lived and we all played together.

  6. Thank you to all the loyal customers I have had the pleasure of meeting all these 27 years..It’s been a blast. Remember we are here until the end of July! Come in to see us!

    • Muriel Durner

      The Hair Place has always been like an extended family for me. My empty nest has been filled by Betty and her staff on many occasions. My memories are many, especially when everyone took the time and trouble to remember Laurie (my mom) as she celebrated her many birthdays [leading up to her 110th]. You all will be sorely missed but certainly never forgotten. God Bless!!!

  7. My dear and lovely sister-in-law. I wish you the best always. You taught me strength, courage and ambition. It is a gift I treasure and will never forget. I hope to see you soon. Love, Linda

  8. Linda Sacchi

  9. Steve Olexa

    I went there when I lived in Westport until I was 22 years old. “Steve” used to cut my hair all those years until he died. I loved going there to talk to everyone. It’s a shame that businesses like this have to close after so many years of service to the community. They will be missed.