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Longtime Sanford Stylist Hangs Up His Scissors

Rodney LaPierre.

Rodney LaPierre.

Photo: Zendelle Bouchard

By Zendelle Bouchard

After 49 years in the hairstyling business, Rodney LaPierre is looking forward to retirement. The 75-year-old proprietor of The Best Little Hair House in Town on Main Street in Sanford will hang up his scissors at the end of this week.

As a young man, LaPierre had originally planned to go into the medical field. After serving as a medic in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, he got a job at Goodall Hospital and was accepted to the physician’s assistant program at Dartmouth College. But due to high demand for the program, he was told he would have to wait a year before he could begin taking classes. Since he had previously enjoyed cutting and styling hair for friends and family, he decided to enroll in a nine-month beauty school course and work for three months until a spot opened up at Dartmouth. But those three months proved he could earn a living as a stylist and changed his future plans.

Initially, he worked for Theodore, who had a three-chair salon upstairs from Shaw’s Hardware. In May of 1977, LaPierre decided to strike out on his own and opened The Curling Room Etc. in the old Grant’s building (now home to RepubliCash). He stayed there for 11 years before moving to an even larger location at the corner of Washington and School Streets, and ran that for 12 years under the name Hair Etc.

After 23 years of being a boss, LaPierre decided it was time to scale back and sold his business. He and his then-wife purchased a house on Main Street and he opened The Best Little Hair House, which enabled him to work right from home. He was apprehensive at first about whether a home-based salon could draw enough clients, but the cheeky name caught people’s attention and it was a success.

After LaPierre had rotator cuff surgery about ten years ago, he cut back from working five days a week to a three-and-a-half day a week schedule. He was envious of friends who were able to retire, but fully expected he would never be able to afford to do so himself due to the expense involved in maintaining the house. “I used to tell my clients I would be doing their hair and they would hear a thud on the floor, and I would be dead and retired all at the same time,” he says. Then, a few years ago he sold the house to his older son Jason, making retirement a possibility. Now, his son’s family has the main part of the house while Rodney has a small apartment on the second floor – and the financial freedom to enjoy the next phase of his life.

LaPierre jokes that he will spend the first month of retirement in his bathrobe. “If you see me in my robe at Hannaford’s, just tighten my belt and wish me well and leave me alone,” he quips. He hopes to have ten years of continued good health to do some traveling and spend time with friends and family, including his younger son, Scotty. He loves the beach and also has a swimming pool. When the cold weather comes, LaPierre keeps busy with his many creative interests, including flower arranging, drawing, painting and decorating.

He may also revive an interest he gave up when he turned 70 – dressing as Batman for Sanford’s annual 4th of July parade. For 30 years, he participated in the parade, wearing a full costume and wowing kids who were convinced he was the real crime fighter.

LaPierre has one client whose hair he has been setting each week since 1977. “As hard as it was for my clients to hear I was going to retire, it was equally as hard for me to tell them,” he says. Over 200 friends, family members and clients attended his 75th birthday party at the Sanford Elks Lodge on March 30, capping a career that began when he entered beauty school 50 years ago.

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