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After nearly 60 years in business, Oceanfront salon shuts its doors

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Posted at 2:02 PM, Feb 25, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - When you are in her chair, you're going to hear her life story and goings-on.

"I've gone through her husbands, her boyfriends, her second husband," said Anne Donahoe, a client at Bobi's Hair Salon.

Donahoe has been coming to Bobi's for 40 years.

"She's been coming to see me that long. I have been here myself for 52 years, and my shop has been here for 58," said Bobi Garrison.

Thursday will be the last day Garrison's feet will stand on the checkered floors.

"My aunt, who was my disciplinarian, used to make me come and clean the shop," she says.

At 12 years old, Garrison was sweeping the floors, cleaning the perm rods and refilling the shampoo bottles at what was once called Leading Beauty Salon.

"I worked here for 10 years, and then she sold it to me," she explained.

Bobi graduated beauty school in 1968, and five decades later, she still stands in the beach landmark nestled on 25th Street near the Oceanfront.

At 71 years old, Bobi is fun and feisty. She tells crude jokes and accepts liquor bottles as tips.

"Someone told me some time, 'You know, you do a lot of old people,' and I said, 'Well, they weren't old when they started coming here,'" Bobi says.

Her clientele is loyal.

"If everyone shows up, I got 17 people today," she remarked.

Namely seniors, who lately haven't been heading to the salon for their old-school wash and set.

"Now you come in and you sit and wait for the phone to ring," she says.

Coronavirus and a spike in rent has Bobi putting down the sheers.

"It is going to be different," she said.

But the people won't be cut or snipped for her heart as Bobi plans to open a small 12x9 space near Hilltop by appointment only.

"If she retired, I would have been upset," said Donahoe.

So, while the memories of this place will blow over, Bobi is OK with the end of this era.

"The planets aligned, and it was time to go," she said