Downtown businesses come and go, but you can't mail-order a haircut
Downtown Randolph has been through good times and bad, but one thing you can count on is a good haircut. You can’t buy a spool of thread or a light bulb on Main Street since Belmain’s closed, but you can still get a cute bob, thanks to Sue, Kelly, and Lisa.
Lisa is the owner of Armand’s, which is my favorite hair salon of all time. It's next to the railroad tracks, across from the train depot, in a little redbrick building that has had many lives—when a large part of downtown Randolph was destroyed by fire a few years back, the Randolph Fire Department managed to save it. There’s a humongous safe in the corner that is way too heavy to move—it's been there since the telegraph era—but Lisa doesn’t care; she’s a collector of historic memorabilia. The shop is like a museum, with vintage handheld hairdryers lining the walls. You could spend all day in there just looking at stuff. Lisa named the salon after her grandfather, Armand Giroux, who used to work there back when it was a police station. Lisa went to cosmetology school and does lots of fancy stuff, like undercuts in geometric shapes and elaborately braided hairstyles for proms. She only charges $25 for a haircut, but she’s worth a lot more, so I give her a big tip.
A Norman Rockwell souvenir plate at Armand's Hair Salon.
When Lisa is busy and I have a hair emergency, I go to Ken’s, the storefront with the taxidermied catamount in the window and the moosehead on the wall. At Ken’s, you can get your hair cut for less than twenty bucks, with tip. One day Sue wasn’t there—it was her day off and she was probably gardening—and my friend Jessamyn walked in. Jessamyn gets a haircut once every three years, and she had decided this would be the day. She was all psyched up for the Big Chop. The men on hand took one look at her long feminine locks and went into a panic; they told Jess to come back the next day. She did, and Sue gave her a smart new look, even using the electric clippers in the back. Hero.
Continuing north, you’ve got Kelly in the Tallman Building, diagonally across from Kimball Library. My aunt Ruth goes to Kelly, only now that Aunt Ruth is 95, Kelly goes to Aunt Ruth. A hairdresser who makes house calls is high on my list of heroes, especially when the customer is my old auntie.
Part of the collection of vintage grooming paraphernalia at Armand's Hair Salon.