Bette Taylor hangs up her shears after 57 years

Bette Taylor hangs up her shears after 57 years

By LOIS KINDLE

lois@observernews.net

May 27 will be a bittersweet day for Ruskin resident Bette Taylor. After almost six decades as a hair stylist and 31 as owner of Bette’s Tip to Toe Salon, she is retiring and closing her business.

The 2,200-square-foot building and platted, three-lot property it sits on at 102 First Ave. NE, Ruskin, was recently listed for sale. She is also selling her beauty shop equipment.

LOIS KINDLE PHOTO
Bette Taylor, of Ruskin, finishes styling the hair of longtime customer Doris Buzbee at Bette’s Tip to Toe Salon.

“It’s time,” she said about her retirement. “I probably would never get tired of actually doing the work, but I’d like to spend some time with my great-grandchildren and do some volunteer work for my church (First Baptist of Ruskin).

“At the end of June my husband, Neil, and I are headed to Europe for 10 days, and then after that I have no real plans, other than doing yard work, reading, cooking and enjoying retirement.”

Taylor is originally from Bayport on Long Island in New Jersey, where she grew up and graduated from high school, where she vocationally trained in cosmetology her junior and senior years. Graduating in 1960, she immediately was hired as an apprentice doing shampoos and manicures in a local salon.

Taylor eventually began styling hair; got married; had two sons and a daughter; and moved around with her first husband, who was in the military. After they divorced in 1975, she moved to Ruskin to be closer to family.

During the 11 years that followed, Taylor worked for Lazar’s Beauty and Bahia Hair Stylist salons in Ruskin before opening her own place.

“This building was a Haitian retreat when I purchased it in 1986,” she said. “It had no air conditioning, and over the years since then I’ve opened up (the floor plan) and added more chairs.”

Until last year, the salon provided full hair services, body wraps, facials, manicures and pedicures, she said.

LOIS KINDLE PHOTO
Bette’s Tip to Toe Salon, 102 First Ave. NE, Ruskin, has served customers for the past 31 years. The building and property it sits on are now for sale, since owner Bette Taylor is retiring.

After almost six decades, Taylor said the biggest change in the industry she’s seen was the switch from hiring hairdressers as employees to renting them booth space. The move to stylists becoming independent contractors saved salon owners from having to purchase their supplies, offer benefits and pay worker’s compensation.

Taylor said she will miss her salon and the people she served.

“It has been my life,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. “I’ll miss talking with my customers and enjoying the connection I’ve had with them. After so many years of sharing the details of our lives with each other, bonds are formed that become very special. That is what I’ll miss.”

Doris Buzbee, of Ruskin, is one of those people.

“I’ve been coming here every Friday for more than 20 years,” she said, as Taylor curled her hair. “It’ going to be a sad day when the salon closes. I live just blocks away, and it has always been so convenient. And she’s such a nice person. “I’ve enjoyed being her customer, as have many of my friends.”

For information on the sale of the Bette’s Tip to Toe building, call Kay Pye at 813-361-3672. For information on purchasing Taylor’s beauty shop equipment, call her at 813-645-3158.

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