Friday Q&A Victor Gabossi
Victor Gabossi, 74, is a Glenwood Springs institution, although many who read this may not know him. For the past half-century, Gabossi has been taking care of the hairstyling needs of the town, mostly for women but some for men, too. Others in the trade, many of whom apprenticed at Gabossi’s shops, refer to him as “the Godfather of Hair.” One of his apprentices recalled playing tricks on him, such as putting fake, plastic vomit in his sink before he came in for work, or placing a plastic doggie turd on the tanning bed and telling him it was his turn to clean it up. Gabossi, too, recalled those practical jokes fondly as he looked back on a long career.Would you tell readers about how and when you got started in the hair styling business?I started hairstyling in Glenwood Springs in 1959 – it was 50 years ago last September. I grew up in Oak Creek, Colo., over by Steamboat Springs, one of 10 brothers and sisters. My wife is from Steamboat, so we met over there and were dating, and then I came here when I was 20 and was working at the [Thompson Creek Coke & Coal] coal mine, in 1955. And then we got married in ’56, and then in ’58 we left here and went to Greeley for one year.And what happened in Greeley?I started out to be a barber, but my barber told me that hairstyling was way more lucrative. I wanted to make a living, and we had a little girl, so I settled into hairstyling, and went to cosmetology school there in Greeley, [because] her parents had moved to Greeley, and we knew if we got hungry we had some place to get a meal.What got you into haircutting in the first place?I liked the arts field, that’s what I didn’t like about the mine. It was not too artsy. This was as creative as you could get without being on the road, because I loved music, all my life. But, you know, when you are in that field, you have to travel all the time. I picked out hairstyling because I felt like I could do it.What salons have you worked in?I worked at a salon in Greeley when I first got out of school, for about six months or less. Then I had an opportunity to come to Glenwood and work at a salon that was over by the Sioux Curio building … called the Lariat Beauty Salon. I went to work there … maybe six months. The salon I bought downtown was on Cooper Avenue, where the U.S. Bank is now, there was a whole string of commercial buildings all along Cooper then … right across from [the old] City Hall. I bought it from Barbara and Larry Velasquez … friends of mine. It was called Barbara’s Beauty Shop. I ran it from 1959 until 1972 – it was strictly women that I did there for 13 years, nothing but women’s hairstyling. I kept the name for two years … then I named it Victor’s Beauty Spot.What next?I bought the buildings on 14th street … where my salon went in, a big salon, where it used to be Troy’s Dry Cleaners there, next to me. I put in a big styling salon with 12 styling units. I had a separate men’s salon, there were four units there and eight in the women’s part. … When I got bored, I just remodeled and tore up everything [expanding and downsizing as business trends dictated].Do you still own it?I sold right after I had some heart surgery, three years ago, and it’s now called the Renewal Salon. I kept the building, and I rent it out. … I still work three half-days a week. I probably do 40 percent men now.Who’s your longest running client?You know, you have a few. One of them is Patsy Guadnola, who has been with me since I worked over at the Lariat, 50 full years. A lot of them go south for the winter … and I’ve lost a lot of them that have been with me over the years. If you live this long, you lose your clientele.How has the business changed?It’s changed a lot. When I had the salon downtown … most of my clients had their hair done one to two times a week. They didn’t do their own hair, and they couldn’t. Most of them didn’t know how … because it was very fashionable to get the hair as big as you could, wide and high, lots of hairspray and teasing. The concentration wasn’t all on haircuts, like it is today.What are your plans from now on?I should be retired, because of my age. I love being able to work three days a week, as long as I feel good. And we travel a little bit. We don’t do much riding any more … every summer, until about 10 years ago, we’d do at least a week on the Flat Tops on horseback. There’s nine of us [brothers and sisters] still living, we have a family picnic here every spring. … That’s about all you can do at this age.
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