For Ridge salon, it’s hair today, gone tomorrow

John Magrone, an Italian immigrant who has run his Third Avenue hair salon for 44 years, is quitting since his regular customers have stopped coming.
Community Newspaper Group / Dan MacLeod

A dancing hairstylist who merengued his way into the hearts of his Bay Ridge customer base is packing up his scissors and perming rods after 44 years of snipping and shaping locks on Third Avenue.

John Magrone is closing his namesake John’s Place Hair Salon between 87th and 88th streets — an area mainstay for well-coiffed ladies since 1968 — because of a dwindling customer base.

“A lot of my customers moved, passed away or are in nursing homes,” he said candidly when we stopped by his empty shop last week. “I used to have 60 to 70 customers a week, now, I’m lucky if I have 20.”
In the next few weeks, Magrone will have a boss for the first time in his life: he’ll be taking his shears to a barber shop on Fourth Avenue, where he will work three or four shifts a week.

The self-professed ladies man, who was born in Italy but moved to Bensonhurst when he was 13, said that he ventured into hair styling for a simple reason — to meet women.

“I like ladies too much!” he said. “I wanted to work on their hair!”

And the ladies love him right back, with some faithful customers vowing that they will follow their favorite hair sculptor to his new spot.

“I like him, I like the way he sets my hair,” said Alice McCusker, who has been getting her hair washed and colored by Magrone for more than 20 years. “I’m sorry for him to leave the place, but at least he has a job.”

John’s Place Hair Salon had been a lively meeting place and social club for customers, who learned to cha-cha, meringue and disco dance there during the late 1970s — courtesy of Magrone.

Its departure is the latest casualty in a string of longtime businesses cashing out in a rapidly changing neighborhood that no longer values a good bouffant or beehive.

“He helped to keep all of us looking more glamorous,” said another longtime customer, who refused to give her name.

Magrone may have surrendered his business, but he’s not clipping his hairdressing dreams any time soon.

“God willing, if I stay healthy I will do this for as long as I can,” he said. “It’s a good way to socialize and keep your mind busy.”

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at twitter.com/dsmacleod.

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