Another Polish Town institution closed its doors Friday

02/24/2012 4:00 PM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kay Davis on the last day in her shop 'Hairstyles in Motion' works on longtime client Trudy McKillop, 82, of Polish Town. Trudy said "For me it's convenient. I just walk across the street. She does a good job and we have lots of laughs. We have a good time."

Another Polish Town institution left town today when Kay Davis closed her “Hairstyles in Motion” store after 32 years at its Pulaski Street locale.

She planned to close at about 1:30 p.m., and then have a reception with some of her loyal customers afterwards.

Ms. Davis said that all of the stores that were in Polish Town when she first opened her shop in 1980 have since left, and now her store is closing too.

“I’m the last merchant,” she said. “I’ve been here the longest. Every one of them is gone.”

Ms. Davis, who lives in Calverton and who has been the coordinator of the Polish Town Street Fair and Festival for the last decade, will be staying around herself, and plans to continue to be involved in the fair and in the Polish Town Civic Association, of which she’s been a member since 1985, and has been president five times.

“Any kind of volunteer work I can do, I’m available,” she said.

“I think it’s a sad day,” said Burte Harris, her longtime friend, customer, and fellow Polish Town Civic Association member.

“She’s been a big part of Polish town, with 32 years that she’s been here. It hurts me, because we’ve been a big part in the revitalization of Polish town. I’ll have to invite her for lunch sometime to do my hair.”

Ms. Davis said she will, in fact, be available to come to people’s homes to do their hair.

Ms. Davis said she’s been considering closing her shop for the past three years, and figured she’d get out while she’s ahead. But that doesn’t make the decision any easier.

“It’s sad,” she said. “You cannot imagine how I feel. It’s like a big part of my life’s been taken away from me. Polish Town has been like my second home. I’m 71 years old and ever since I was a child, my family was active in Polish Town and I always wanted to be a part of this community.”

When she first opened her shop on June 4, 1980, she said, “It was my dream. I never expected to open my own beauty parlor, but when the availability came to me in 1980, I figured, this was my opportunity.”

The storefront had previously been an ice cream parlor and a lot of work was required to convert it into a beauty parlor, she said, but she got a lot of help and support from her friends and family in doing so.

She had 11 employees when she opened. Now she just has her daughter and one other employee. She had been a hairdresser before she opened her own shop, and she will be a hairdresser for 49 years come April 2.

Ms. Davis recalls a time when she worked seven days a week until 7:30 p.m. and Polish Town “was the place to be on a Friday night in Riverhead,” as people packed into the now-closed Doc’s Tavern.

Many of the new stores opening in Polish Town are not Polish stores, as had been case in years past, although there remains a large Polish-American population in the town.

For the future, Ms. Davis said she’s hoping to work with kids, and will continue to do some hair styling jobs at people’s homes.

“I just think it’s time for me to move on,” she said. “I’ve had many loyal customers who have been with me for years. I only lose them when they die.”

tgannon@timesreview.com