SALEM, Ore. -- Thirty years ago, Don Erickson began booking his haircuts at the Academy of Hair Design in downtown Salem.
The school was a short walk from his job at the Department of Education and he enjoyed chatting with the young, energetic student-hairdressers. Even as he moved jobs, he kept frequenting the academy, which opened in 1967.
He stopped by Monday to book yet another appointment with his usual barber, a former bartender who decided to go back to school so he could work fewer nights and spend more time with his family.
But when Erickson returned the next day, the business was not its usual bustling self. Students sat on the bench outside with tears in their eyes. A small sign on the school's door announced its closure, and people were inside, packing up their stations.
The family-run beauty school, known for its $4.95 haircuts, fundraisers and training hundreds of Salem hairdressers over the years, abruptly closed Tuesday.
"It was kind of sad," Erickson said. "It's really strange that they would out of the blue shut down."
He said the students were just as confused as he was.
One student, who was just days away from graduating, said she was told the morning of the closure.
Now, they are scrambling to get into schools around town to finish their education.
The school closed only months before its 50th anniversary. According to Statesman Journal archives, the Academy of Hair Design opened in 1967 at 444 Ferry St. SE.
An October 1967 story (paywall) in The Oregon Statesman reported there were 38 students, four licensed instructors and two cadet teachers.
It moved to its current location at 305 Court Street NE in the 1980s. Gene Snook, one the business's original owners, remains listed as the president and lead salon owner. Michael Snook, the manager, did not immediately respond to comment.
In a Facebook post, floor manager Julie Snook thanked the academy's customers and students for 50 years of service.
Saying goodbye is so hard for me. Beginning new chapters and endeavors is scary and exciting at the same time! But my...Posted by Julie Snook on Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Classes ran from as little as 20 weeks for esthetics to 60 weeks or 2,300 hours of course for hair design, esthetics and nail technology training.
Tuition is listed at about $16,000.
One student said many of them had paid more than $1,000 for their hair design kits and equipment but had not received them. They didn't know what to do to get refunds.
For now, they're working on contacting local cosmetology schools to finish their training. One student posted: "Rest (in) peace Academy of Hair Design...You will be missed. Onward to College of Hair Design and Careers!!!"
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