In September of 1980, chains like CVS, The Gap, Starbucks, and Subway didn’t even exist in Rye. F. W. Woolworth and a popular eatery called Cosmo’s graced Purchase Street.
By Nick D’Agostino
In September of 1980, chains like CVS, The Gap, Starbucks, and Subway didn’t even exist in Rye. F. W. Woolworth and a popular eatery called Cosmo’s graced Purchase Street. On Purdy Avenue there was an A&P, and across from the train station sat a pub known as the Mug & Ale.
That September was also the month that Kathy and Louis Larizza signed a five-year lease for $260 per month at 131 Purchase Street. Within a week, Casual Hair Design was operational. Kathy, a talented hair stylist, took on the duties of the shop. A strong businessman, Louis handled the financing and marketing. Little did they know how successful this enterprise would become.
Louis Larizza was firm believer in eye-catching signs outside the shop. Early in the 1990s, he came up with the successful idea of “Wacky Wednesdays”, when all haircuts would cost only $10. This concept would increase their immediate client base and provide repeat business for years to come. It didn’t take Rye parents long to recognize a great value, and before long, hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students were coming in for a haircut. Today, more than 40 percent of Casual Hair Design clients are male, and many grew up coming to the shop to enjoy the magic that Kathy and her talented staff provide.
Sadly, Kathy is now the sole partner at the salon. Louis succumbed to ongoing complications of diabetes in 2008. However, Casual Hair Design, his last business venture, remains a testament to his entrepreneurial style.
Kathy’s crew is not only talented, but all are truly seasoned professionals. Sara Mortelliti has been with Kathy since the first day. April Shier and Christine Lupo have been at Casual Hair for 15 years each. This is so unusual in the salon industry that I had to ask why they remained so long under one roof. Their answer was quick and unanimous: “Kathy is a great person to work for.”
Casual Hair Design, celebrating 30 years in Rye, is a part of that small town ambience that Rye is known for. If you happen to walk by, stop in and say hi to Kathy and her staff. Even though those “Wacky Wednesday” prices are a thing of the past, the salon is still going strong.
Here’s to another 30 years in Rye, Kathy!