On Thursday, May 19, Haircut101, a downtown Boone staple for 33 years under founder and owner John Mena, will be closing for the final time.
“It was far from an easy decision, but after a lot of thought and reflection, the time seems right for me to change some of my priorities in life,” Mena said.
Last month, Mena sold the building that had housed Haircut101 for 26 years, following its original Depot Street location burning down. The new owner of the building has no immediate plans for the building and is now exploring options and ideas.
“I feel very blessed and blessed to have persevered all these years in spite of myself,” Mena said. “I have been supported and encouraged by many friends, family and employees who have kept the doors open over the past few years. I have been very, very blessed.
Mena has been reflecting on the decision to retire for two years, explaining he’s been back and forth thinking it was the right thing, the right time to end a career that spanned three decades.
“Since making the decision to close the salon, it’s been a blur, a kaleidoscope of memories that come to mind as I recall the clientele, all the happy times and some sad times. .As a hairstylist for so long, you find yourself being one of those families.You do your hair for proms, weddings, birthdays, special events.You do the kids’ first haircuts and then you do the first haircuts for their children. I’ve been to hospitals and nursing homes, and housebound clients, to cut and style their hair. I’ve given quite a few last haircuts; more than I don’t care to remember.
After 33 years, it’s hard for Mena to guess how much hair he’s cut and styled, and he said it was heartbreaking knowing he wouldn’t be seeing regular clients, many of whom are good friends, when the doors close on Thursdays.
Mena also remembers all the stylists who worked for him over the years. Many have opened their own salons here in Boone as well as across the United States. “You know, it’s really Haircut101. You have to come through here before you can graduate, and we’ve graduated a lot of hairdressers, taking them out of beauty school, seventeen, eighteen, they are just getting started, and I’ve had stylists who have been with me for a dozen years.
“I loved every minute of it, and now suddenly it feels like yesterday Haircut101 opened its doors. But it’s about time; I feel at peace with my decision.
With all of these thoughts and emotions running through his head, Mena picked up a pen to express his feelings and thoughts in the following letter which he shares with the many, many friends and clients who have come from his time at Haircut101.
After 33 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and a few days, Haircut101 will no longer be “Stackin-n-Whackin” in Downtown Boone. After having a stent inserted into a 98% blockage in my “widowmaker” artery, then being diagnosed with “exercise-induced asthma” after being an avid runner since high school – not to mention the arthritis in my hands, knees and ankles – my wife, Kate, and I decided it would be best for me to semi-retire, take some time off and regroup. Another determining factor in my decision to close up shop is the fact that over the past few years I have had close friends and a few relatives leave early. We haven’t been here that long; enjoy it while you can will be my new mantra.
I was very, very lucky to have landed in this beautiful area in February 1988, to have met the best people and to have been able to open and manage a successful business downtown, on the same street, for more 33 years old. I have a beautiful, supportive wife, Kate, a wonderful son, Corey, 3 siblings, and a mom and dad who I haven’t been able to spend enough time with lately. Without all these people, I would never have achieved what I have.
The last two and a half years have been a real ordeal for everyone, but it has helped me better understand what is really important in life: family, friends and motorcycles. Yes, I want to do lots of motorcycle camping trips and tours of this great country with my wife and close friends.
Closing Haircut101 was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, and one of the scariest. I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little apprehensive about the future, but I trust myself, my wife, my family and my friends to guide me along the way.
Haircut101 was the epitome “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. From the start, it was a “seat of the pants” experience in running a business. This was long before YouTube, cell phones and computers. I have been fortunate to work with hairdressers, very talented, motivated and determined assistants and our reception “goddesses”. I learned a lot from them and I am very proud of the fact that most have done very well in the profession. I am very grateful for their help in being able to realize my dreams and aspirations, which has allowed me to live, work and play in such a beautiful region.
I cannot express the gratitude I feel for the thousands of people who have helped make Haircut101 a success over all these years. ASU students, faculty, and staff have played an important role in building the culture and vibe of our studio. We have employed many students over the years, most working their entire college career at 101.
I was raised in a very loving and generous family, and that’s how I feel about a large group of our clientele who are now part of our family 101. We grew up together, raised children, created families, made and broken relationships and laid many family members to rest. We laughed together, we worried, we cried, we rejoiced and we prayed together. As I said earlier, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. Overall, things are going the way they are supposed to.
Since making this decision, I have had a flood of feelings, both positive and negative. I shed tears and I lost several hours of sleep on it, and I’m finally at peace with my decision, it will take a lot of getting used to; it will be very difficult to break the habit of going to work every day after walking the dogs.
My colleagues have all found other workplaces. After all, if you can work at 101, you can work anywhere. because I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the easiest person to work with! Delores will join the Canvas team, Jessica will bring her scissors to Mane Habit in the mall, Amber will join the Shear Shakti team on King St., and Elora will work with the ladies of The Wilted. Lily Salon, on State Farm Rd.
Once again, thank you for all of your loyalty, support and memories over the past three decades. I’m really grateful.
Sincerely, John J. Mena