Main Line Hair Salon Set Down Roots in Cinnaminson 40-Plus Years Ago

John Melchiorre, hairstylist and businessman, has been washing, cutting and styling the locals for decades.


It was an era when men would welcome an hour-long refuge from the world by smoking cigarettes, yakking politics or viewing the men's glossies, all while waiting their turn for the barber chair, remembers Main Line Hair Salon owner John Melchiorre, 62, of the years his dad owned a barbershop in Philadelphia.

“My father used to stand on milk crates to cut hair,” Melchiorre says, chuckling. “It was a very different time.”

Indeed. Melchiorre’s father, a first-generation Italian in Philadelphia began cutting hair in 1914 in a neighborhood shop at 5th and Cambria streets. 

When Melchiorre was 13, he started spending more time in his dad’s shop and learned how to cut hair. Growing up, his family lived in the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia. By 17, he had begun an apprenticeship. 

Two years later, in 1969, and about a mile from where his salon is today, he opened his own shop in the Main Line Shopping Center with 13 associates, who gave wash-and-sets with holding gels, a throwback to a time when women had standing appointments. 

Melchiorre still lives in Mount Laurel with his family, where he settled in 1978.

He stayed in the mall where Penn Fruit was the chief supermarket, where the five-and-dime store W.T. Grant’s sold things called sundries, and where parents bought their kids their first-day-of-school shoes at Shoe Town.

In 2000, an opportunity arose to buy the 200-year-old building that houses his salon, and which sits on the roundabout at Route 130 North and Highland Avenue. After 13 months of remodeling, he opened his family friendly salon, which is now next to the tall iron fence that wraps around the Siena condominiums. Melchiorre says the building was previously owned for many years by a local family, and it used to be a stagecoach stop.

“People would stop here when they would make the long ride from New York City to Philadelphia.”  

These days, Melchiorre is the sole male among a sanctuary of six female operators, who cut, curl and primp clients' heads Monday through Saturday. 

On this afternoon, a young woman was having her hair lightened, sitting with foils (starting at $45) pointing out from the top of her scalp. Another lady had her hair set in tiny rollers. A male client, one of many, according to Melchiorre, had just received a trim. (Women's cuts start at $22, men's at $15.)

Time spent under dome-like dryers has been mostly replaced with the constant hum of hand-held dryers.

Smooth, sleek hair is pulled straight with metallic flat irons.

“I can also remember when everyone wanted a perm,” says Melchiorre, whose customers make appointments, but his salon also services daily walk-ins. “We would do about 1,000 perms a year. That stopped about seven years ago. Maybe, we do a couple a month now.”

Just like the weather, hairstyles are unpredictable: About five years ago everyone wanted short hair, says Melchiorre. 

“Now, the style is longer,” says Melchiorre. “But after about five or six months, they’ll get tired of it.”

John January 28, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Wow, there was a shop rite where pep boys is now....Then they moved to the Shoppes when it was built....very interesting....Its nice to remember all these things....
Ric January 28, 2013 at 06:35 PM
John, the Shoprite that was at Pep Boys closed. Many years later another Shoprite opened at the Shoppes. There was also a grocery store where the furniture rental store is today. And an Acme near where the Shoppes is today. Cinnaminson had at least four grocery stores at one time.
Radiohead January 28, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Sean When the Mc Donough family had the place it was awesome. They were truly homemade donuts. I went to St Charles as a kid and they used to have an annual spaghetti dinner. Those donuts were always dessert and everybody loved them. Your Dad was also very active in the community . Actually, in the 1970's there was a shop rite at Pep Boys, an Acme where the furniture place was, a Shop N Bag at Main Line, and an Acme right around where the current shop rite was. There was also a Cinnaminson Mini Mall with a movie theater right where the Shoppes are. The flagship store at the mall was a Woolco. Later another mini mall opened right where the original Brothers pizza resides. The Acme which closed recently took the place of the second Mall. And does anyone remember Fishers Chicken Holiday right next door to the old Dino's Pizza. That was the absolute best fried chicken in the world . Good times!!!
AnoninCinna January 28, 2013 at 08:04 PM
I remember Mr. Donut, and the Color Tile where the pool store is. Also, Sambo's where Bo's Wok is, and of course, Rustler Steakhouse in front of the mini-mall/Woolco. I also remember the Shop Rite/Shop n Bag where Pep Boys is. There was also the Stationary Store and Fish Factory pet store in that strip mall. Where the Wawa is was Jewel T grocery store. The original Acme, where the current Shop Rite is, also had a Thrift Drug there at one time.
Radiohead January 28, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Wow. I forgot about Rustler and Jewel T. I do remember the Fish Factory and Stationary store. I also loved Clover as a kid.
Cindy Pierson January 28, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Anybody else remember when Hathaway's was a log cabin, with a real porch, and was next to a horse pasture?
Christina Paciolla (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 09:08 PM
I don't think that was a ShopRite (where Pep Boys is now). There was definitely a Shop 'N' Bag there. And yes, Acme was where the Shoppes are and that wasn't all that long ago—that moved in the late 1990s. Talk of the Town was where Bottom Dollar was so maybe there were three at one point? There was a grocery store where Cort is? I remember Zoos so this had to be way long ago. That was before Acme was even here I'm sure.
Christina Paciolla (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Yes, Thrift Drug! I remember that. And I definitely remember the stationery store.
Christina Paciolla (Editor) January 28, 2013 at 09:09 PM
I would have loved to see that...
Ric January 28, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Christina, I believe A & P or Super Fresh was the original tenant before Cort. There was definitely a grocery there. Pep Boys was either at Shoprite or Shop N Bag. I sort of think a Pathmark was somewhere in town but I had gone away to school so I could be wrong. As I recall there were three grocery stores off of Cinnaminson Avenue and the forth was at Mainline. Around this time, in Delran, there was a grocery store that opened at Two Guys and another one at the Millside Shopping Center. Times sure have changed.
Phil January 28, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Definitely a Shop 'n Bag but I think it was a Pathmark prior to that and the SnB closed shop in 1992.
Mike January 28, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I use to love those stuffed shrimp from chicken holiday !
Mike January 28, 2013 at 11:10 PM
I remember when Whistlers was the American House and the owner would just sit in the corner where the kitchen doors are and watch westerns on the one TV lol
JS January 28, 2013 at 11:59 PM
There were 3 supermarkets around the Cinnaminson Ave./Lenola Rd./Church Rd. intersections: A&P, Acme and Shop Rite. The Shop n Bag was in Main Line and opened up after the Penn Fruit closed. When Clover first opened, it also had a supermarket attached to it on the left. That certainly was a lot of food stores for such a small town! Even though they were termed "supermarkets" (as opposed to corner stores), they were all a great deal smaller than what we're used to seeing today. The smallest being Penn Fruit/Shop n Bag (now Bottom Dollar).
JS January 29, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Totally agree that Mr. Donut was so much better than Dunkin...I've been saying that for years!
Sean McDonough January 29, 2013 at 12:44 AM
I loved "working" behind the counter at Mr. Donuts. My dad had a lot of fun when he had it. I remember the 1.50 theater and when the gym was there with a pool( I thought that was wild) and wall to wall sound and video. That's where we rented our VCR videos. Lol. And further down In delran behind McDonald's was Dee's appliances and next door was Two Guys. And at Fairview were The Greens. When it was just a driving range. Wasn't there a Chip N Put somewhere by Hunters Glen Apts????
JS January 29, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Yes! It was a Chip n Putt and Miniature Golf back there. Went there many times when I was little. Also, before the Greens, it was Midiri's driving range, spent a bit of time up there watching my dad hit his "bucket of balls" as he was an avid golfer.
lesanda January 29, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Now to get back on track. I have been a patron of John"s Mainline Hair Salon since 1998 and John is the one who cuts my hair.. In spite of the fact he now has less hair to cut on my head he refuses to charge me less. How ever I cannot change my shop beause John always has a new joke to tell me on every visit and that makes my day. Besides, Sue his associate is an eyefull.
Marilyn McMenamin January 29, 2013 at 02:20 AM
Yes, even though I lived in Maple Shade growing up, we used to go the Gino's and there was a horse in a fenced in area next to Gino's.
FbS January 29, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Some amazing places were around here.. Wished I was here then..
Nancy VanTwistern January 29, 2013 at 02:55 PM
How the heck did this 'article' ...'get off track'??? Supposed to be about Mainline Hair Salon............anyway............good location..........good products............great people!!!
John January 29, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Leave it to people to leave and get off track.....thats what happens all the time....there was a gym and portobalo's where the bottom dollar is now....and hollywood rental now where the new med center is...
robert flynn January 29, 2013 at 06:51 PM
anyone remember Millside farms and the cows crossing rt 130 to graze in the field where target is now???
robert flynn January 29, 2013 at 07:00 PM
WHOOPS, I FORGOT TO SAY jOHN HAS BEEN CUTTING MY HAIR FOR MANY YEARS And yes Sue is is worthy of a visit to brighten your day. Great people Great sevice, good conversation. Hope your their till my hair fall out. Congrats 'old man'. Bob
robert flynn January 29, 2013 at 07:01 PM
where is the spell checker when i need it?
Stephen Melchiorre January 29, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Congratulations Dad! I can't recall any time we have been out together somewhere where we have not run into one of your long time regulars that always has a story to tell about the barber shop. Generations have brought their children there for a first hair cut, and now their children have become regulars. This is one of the few places left in the world where you can come in and truly be who you are. You are guaranteed to hear a good joke, or a funny one liner. Congrats Dad! - Steve
Skitch January 31, 2013 at 03:53 AM
The grocery store where the Cort Furniture rental is now used to be an A&P store if I am not mistaken. There was the old Shop Rite, the old Acme, the Shop in Bag (same owner as the new Shop Rite). Does anyone remember the old Main Line Deli? I sure miss those types of businesses around here. I also miss Hillers Meat Market. There you go, there is an idea for the property on Willow and 130. A meat market.
Skitch January 31, 2013 at 04:19 AM
I have lived here 52 years and I have seen a lot of changes around here. Not all are bad but keep in mind that the times have also changed. Cinnaminson was a great town to grow up in. It still is when compared to other towns. I moved away for a year after getting married but came back to raise my children here. I would do it all over again the same way if I had too. You can all complain about the high taxes (as I do) but there is nothing keeping you here or me. If you think the grass is greener somewhere else then go. I happen to like it here. You get what you pay for. If you don't like what is happening around town, stop whining and get involved. Especially you John. However I suspect for most of you complainers if you moved somewhere else you would also complain about the new town's taxes after a time.
Cindy Pierson January 31, 2013 at 04:40 AM
I don't want to take away from the Mainline Hair Salon story more than I already have - so I guess I'll have to do a blog post specifically for strolling down memory lane - Watch for it!
Chris January 31, 2013 at 02:55 PM
We can discuss anything we want whether it off track or not. Whether its related or not we can discuss. Only you are complaning.


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