SOMERVILLE, NJ – After 45 years of primping, trimming, coiffing and coloring, Tino Cintorrino is putting down his comb and scissors and hanging up his blow dryer.
A venerable institution in Somerville, Tino’s Hair Salon and Body Spa, 37 West Main St., is closing on New Year’s Eve.
“It took quite a few years for me to decide, to make up my mind,” said the 72-year-old resident of Westfield. “It was a great run, but now, it’s time to do some traveling, maybe pick up a hobby, although I don’t know what, yet.”
No more body waves, no more spiral perms, no more manicures or pedicures.
Cintorrino began to wind down a few months ago, closing the spa that adjoined the hair salon at the end of October.
Paging through his appointment book, Cintorrino points to several vertical columns penciled in with names of clients. He is booked solid for the next few days, right until he locks the door behind his last customer - just a few hours before the New Year and his new life as a retiree begins.
He can’t begin to count the number of customers that have sat in his chair over the years, and estimates he still has 250 steady clients.
“I can’t even begin to think of all the people that went through this place,” he said.
Richard Nixon was president when Cintorrino opened in 1970; that same year, the Beatles disbanded and IBM introduced the first floppy disk.
Much has changed over the years, and that includes hairstyles, according to Cintorrino.
“Hairstyles keep evolving, there’s new looks, colors; things became more casual. It used to be that people would come in every week, now they go 4, 6 weeks, it’s been a complete change,” he said.
Cintorrino has mixed feelings about leaving behind what he loves and says he’ll miss his clients.
“I’m satisfied with what I achieved,” he said, “and I can’t say enough about all the wonderful people I met in town. They became my second family.
“I can’t say I’m not happy to leave, but at the same time, I’m sad to leave behind my clients and friends,” he added.
Cintorrino is hosting a party for his long time friends and clients at the salon on Sunday afternoon.
He began his career in his native Italy, where he apprenticed for his brother; he finished his schooling and obtained his license in New Jersey in 1964, and worked at a salon for six years before he opened at 48 E. Main St. in 1970. He moved to the present location at the corner of West Main Street and the Division Street pedestrian mall in 1996.
Cintorrino owns the building, and rents apartments that are on the second floor. It is considered a prime downtown location.
He has no intentions of selling the building and said he has someone interested in signing a lease, although he would not reveal any details.
“Not until the lease is signed,” he said.
Cintorrino said he expects to visit Somerville often after he retires.
“You just don’t leave behind your friends,” he said.