‘New Kensington is part of my life,’ says 60-year hair salon owner

Robert Hundley

Prolonged ahead of people today could check with their smartphones for directions, Patty
Reimer sought direction from a increased source — God.

Reimer was renting place for her hair salon, Cleopatra’s, in New Kensington. She was on her way to get a making for it in Decreased Burrell in Oct 1984 when she requested God for assistance, and didn’t go by means of with it.

Her initially partner, Joe Giordano, died later that exact same month at 54 from a heart assault. Acquiring the building for her business would have saddled her with that property finance loan on top rated of her home’s.

“I would have misplaced anything I had,” Reimer mentioned. “I’m glad I had my organization. I was in a position to endure.”

And survive she did. Reimer, 83, has had her salon in downtown New Kensington for 60 decades. She was born in the metropolis, hardly ever remaining, and has usually paid rent for her shop at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Road.

Reimer got started out in 1961 in a house dealing with Seventh Street, when her mother served her buy what had been
Beverly J’s Attractiveness Shop. She obtained so busy by 1966 that she wanted a bigger space and moved to a storefront in the identical developing facing Fifth Avenue, in which she’s been ever since.

“I by no means want to depart this city. I just appreciate staying below,” she explained. “New Kensington is element of my existence.”

Her most current landlord, Sean Watson, acquired the developing in November 2018. He has his own enterprise, Maintain-Capable Issue(s), in the creating and is opening a restaurant, SoCal Mexicali Grill, on the corner.

Reimer was the only tenant when Watson purchased it. When he walked in to introduce himself, a terrified Reimer questioned Watson if he was heading to kick her out or increase the lease.

Watson brought her in for a hug.

“She’s one of the only people today I did not shake palms with. When we initial achieved, we hugged. I loved that about her,” he said. “Every time I see her, it is a big hug. The rent by no means went up $1 on her, and it never ever will as prolonged as she’s there.”

Reimer said she’ll maintain performing cuts, colors, perms and highlights as lengthy as her health and fitness is fantastic, which, aside from some sciatica, she claims it is.

“If I retired I’d almost certainly go mad. I never want to retire and look at Television set all working day lengthy. I just want to endure below right until I eliminate all my consumers,” she reported. “You get up, you get dressed, come down and see men and women. It retains you younger.”

Reimer explained most of her clients variety in age from 70 to 100, while there are a few kids in their 60s. There is been sorrow when they’ve moved or handed away.

“They’re my family,” she explained. “All the several years we’ve been collectively, when they die it’s like getting rid of a member of your relatives.”

Julie Colpo of Washington Township has been coming to Reimer every week for quite a few many years. “Too a lot of,” she mentioned.

“She does miracles,” Colpo mentioned throughout a latest go to. “She’s not only my beautician, she’s my close friend. A incredibly great a single, much too. It’s practically like relatives coming listed here.”

Reimer’s dad and mom, John and Eva Phillips, arrived to the United States from Greece, the island of Karpathos in the Aegean Sea. Her father shortened their family’s name from Philipides. They experienced four daughters and a son Reimer is the 2nd oldest of the 5, who are all even now dwelling.

Reimer went to beauty school at night time while a pupil at Ken High, graduating from equally in 1956.

“I usually preferred undertaking hair,” she said. “My mom pushed me to get a work ideal absent. I had to assistance the relatives.”

She worked for an individual else for only 5 a long time in advance of opening Cleopatra’s, which she named in section because of the popular 1963 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and for the reason that it is her title in Greek — some get in touch with her Cleo.

Reimer was married to her first partner, Giordano, who worked for PPG in East Deer, for 11 yrs.

She remarried seven years afterwards to Jack Reimer, and they’ve been married for 29 a long time.

Reimer remembers when New Kensington was bustling, with sidewalks so entire, people experienced to move off into the avenue to go an individual. She experienced competitiveness from other splendor stores all about the town.

It was just as active inside Cleopatra’s.

“We were being blessed to get an appointment,” Colpo reported. “Those were the times.”

The toughest situations ended up brought by the covid pandemic, earning 2020 her worst calendar year.

When she was forced to close by the condition, customers begged her to arrive to their households, but she was afraid. “I could’ve misplaced my license,” she said.

Even when she could reopen, Reimer explained she continue to missing customers, this kind of as those people residing in nursing houses who have been not permitted to depart.

“That ruined a good deal of corporations, especially modest organizations,” she stated.

Lately, she’s seen the endeavours to deliver New Kensington back again. Fridays on Fifth, a regular monthly food items truck party commenced this calendar year, has packed the streets the moment once again vacant
storefronts are staying rehabilitated and turning out to be property to a range of new companies.

“They’re bringing men and women again to the city. It’s great to see all the new sites open up up,” she claimed. “Maybe it will assist me. Possibly I’ll get some buyers.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Overview workers writer. You can make contact with Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or by using Twitter .

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