New Look Salon in Bristol marks 25th anniversary - by closing


It was Oct. 17, 1987 when Peggy Murgo and Ann Mello opened the New Look Hair Salon. Back then they were the only salon on Hope Street, and probably one of only five or six in the entire town.

“Now I can count five in a four-block range,” Ms. Murgo said.

On Oct. 17, 2012 the women celebrated their 25 years in business together. Then they closed their doors and went their separate ways.

“After 25 years, everyone should get a new job,” Ms. Murgo said. “The secret is just do what you’re good at. Don’t try to be good at everything.

While business has remained good for the two over the years, they both decided it was time to do what they are good at.

“I love being a hairdresser. I love working with people,” Ms. Murgo said. “I just don’t like the business side of owning a business.”

The two women, who are sisters-in-law as well as business partners, have remained close over the years.

“We manage to keep our personal life and our business life separate,” Ms. Murgo said.

Together, they built a successful business. Apart, they won’t consider themselves competitors.

“We’re still sisters-in-law,” Ms. Murgo said. “People still need to get their hair cut,” she said.

After working 10- to 12-hour days to accommodate their clients’ schedules, the two will be employees of other salons. Then they can focus on their clients, not managing a business.

“It’s what we used to do,” Ms. Murgo said.

And the clients they’ve had for many years appreciated the attention.

“You develop a relationship with your clients,” Ms. Mello said.

Ms. Murgo joined A New Beginning Salon, a new salon that recently opened at 87 Gooding Ave.. Ms. Mello joined Salon 346, at 346 Wood St. Both will continue to service their clients in Bristol, which was good news to one woman who stopped at the salon last week.

“My husband calls this ‘the magic shop’,” Nancy Johnson said on one of her last visits to A New Look. “Everybody goes out looking like they wanted to. I’ve been to high-end places and they don’t listen.”

She plans to follow Ms. Murgo to her new salon.

Over the years, the women have seen their share of fads in hairstyles — line-ups, high and tight, side to side — matching styles with the era.

“We did lots of perms in the ’80s,” Ms. Mello recalled. “Big hair. Everybody had it.”

Cuts gave way to colors, and sometimes the women have to save their clients from themselves.

“Kids come in and want pink, purple hair,” she said. “If I think something’s not a good idea, I’d let them know,” Ms. Mello said. “You have to be discreet.”

While the decision is bittersweet for the women, they are both happy with their decisions and the salons where the bosses are now employees.

“It took me a long time to find a salon I liked,” Ms. Murgo said. “When I walked in, (the owner) turned out to be the daughter of a former client. She reminded me of me 25 years ago.”

Ms. Mello said when she found Salon 346, it felt right to her, as well.

“My neighbor owns it and runs it. I felt very comfortable,” she said.

The two, who spent 25 years cutting hair and making friends on Hope Street, planned to mark the end of A New Look and the beginning of a new chapter with a bottle of champagne.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.