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Hair cutting hub on Main Street

By Michael Buonocore and Olivia DeCell
On April 17, 2017

Walk up the two stairs and open the wooden framed glass door at the Special Effects salon on 614 Main Street in Castleton, step onto the well-worn hardwood floor and expect to receive a warm welcome from the women inside.

It’s toasty from the sun shining in, and the smell of hair products fills the air. Mary Diefendorf will look up from whatever she’s doing when she hears the creak of the opening door to welcome the soon-to-be customer.

It is a well-known fact that hairdressers like to chat and usually know everything that goes on in the town of their salon. When receiving a haircut or getting your hair done, it is nearly impossible to just sit there and not say anything. It seems as if part of the job of being a hairdresser is being able to communicate and connect with your customers.

Diefendorf, of Poultney, is the owner of the salon, and has been working there for 24 years. She seemed very interested in everything being said and clearly enjoys chatting with her patrons.

After 24 years of working at the same salon, Diefendorf and her fellow employees say they have made relationships with people in Castleton and the surrounding towns that have the possibility of lasting a lifetime.

 “Actually one girl, I did her hair when she was probably 6 or 8 months old and she’s graduating from high school this year,” said Tammy Arruta, another hairdresser at the salon, “We’ve been here a while.”

The salon is also a place where people go to not only to get their hair done, but also for the social aspect. When asked about the rumors and the talk that goes on in town, both employees began laughing.

“We’re part of the hub in Castleton” Arruta said, “If someone’s lost (on Main Street), they come here to ask us.”

Diefendorf, when asked about the soon to be pizza rivalry in town, said if there was another hair salon opening right next to hers, she would be alarmed as well. This so-called rivalry will be between the Castleton Pizza Place & Deli, which has been around for years, and the Third Place Pizzeria, which will open soon.

“I think it’s great to have competition, but of course if it was a hair salon, I’d probably freak out,” Diefendorf said.  

A lot of the business that this salon receives is from Castleton students, but that is not to say that people who live here year round don’t also stop in. On two recent visits to the salon, there were charming older women getting their hair done and having conversations the whole time.

They talked about routine things like which veterinarian they bring their dogs to and the record-setting snowstorm that was supposed to arrive that night.

The Special Effects salon is located in a spot that makes it easily accessible to students, and many students take advantage of that.

“A lot of the kids I see walk to us,” said Diefendorf, who also stated that they might have fewer college students as customers if they were located somewhere else rather than Main Street.

The haircutting duo said, however, that more guys come in to the salon than girls. Diefendorf said that this has something to do with girls needing their hair cut less frequently, but also because they have been going to the same salons at home for years, and that is who they trust with their hair. But she stressed that students are important for her business.

“We get a lot of returning kids for the four years,” Diefendorf said. “I love the college kids.”

The Castleton Spartan is the student run newspaper for Castleton University in Castleton, Vermont. The goal of the paper is to inform readers about events, topics and individuals pertaining to the Castleton campus and surrounding community.

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