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The Yankee Express

Erich’s Cutting Edge celebrates 20-year anniversary

Jul 20, 2021 09:50AM ● By Chuck Tashjian

Dennis and Donna Dion.

By Janet Stoica
It seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it, Donna?  As the owner of Erich’s Cutting Edge Barbershop located at 304 Main Street in Oxford, Donna Dion has seen hair styles come, go, and come back again.
As Mrs. Dion celebrates her 20-year anniversary in one of the town’s oldest buildings (1749), located at Oxford’s busiest intersection (Main Street and Sutton Avenue), she has seen and been part of much of downtown Oxford’s activities. 
The screaming sirens of fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles; traffic mishaps; weather changes; and many walk-in customers have kept her aware of events but with a keen eye for detail of her clients’ hair styling expectations. Her focus has never wavered. Once those clippers and scissors are in her hands, she hones in on every strand of her customer’s hair. Her eyes never wander. She is  centered on the job at hand and that is to make her customers as pleased as she is when her work is done.
“We enjoy customers from ages 7 to 90+ years old,” said Donna. “We have about a 50/50 age mix. There are many older gentlemen who are our customers.
Donna graduated from Worcester’s Girls Trade School, which is now part of Worcester Vocational High School. She is also a graduate of Brom’s Barber School. While at Girls Trade, she and her fellow students often cut the Boys Trade School students’ hair for practice. This is when she learned that barbering would be her life’s passion. “Fancy styling is not part of what we do here,” said Donna. “We will cut to a requested type of haircut. The latest cut requested is a ‘bald fade.’ This type of cut is close on the sides and then faded into the longer hair on the top of the head.” Usually taking about 45 minutes to complete, most customers appear to be very pleased once they hop out of the barber chair. Beard trims are also offered. 
Another recent trend is called a “hard part.” This cut is with short sides and a long top with a part cut into the long top. Clients will comb the top and gel it back. “I’ll show them how to do the gel. It’s truly amazing, however, to see the really young kids who come in here for a cut and are really into taking care of their own styling. Really amazing. In summertime, we use colored gels for them.” (The gel color washes out.)
Tubes of colored gel sell for $5 each and styling gels run about $12 each. Gel lines include Crew and Suavecito (pomade) for the perfect hold and finish. Donna enjoys cutting fades and regular cuts and will also do flat-tops but the flat-tops are very tedious work as the top must be squared off. “It involves a lot of keen eye-work and lots of hair wax,” Donna says. 
When she was younger and right out of high school, Donna and a good friend decided to take a cross-country tour. They packed up their car and part of their graduation money setting out on the open road driving down the eastern seaboard and across the southern states, visiting tourist spots along the way from New York City to Florida to Louisiana, Texas, even crossing the border into Mexico and then driving back up into California, hitting Las Vegas and the sights of the Grand Canyon. “We actually got a jay-walking ticket in Los Angeles, can you believe it?  “We stopped to do laundry and crossed the street to visit a convenience store to buy a beverage while our clothes were washing. When we crossed back to re-enter the laundry, we were stopped by the police and given a ticket for jaywalking!  Of course, we settled the fine and ticket before leaving the city.” Route 66 was part of their trip as well. Donna talks about how she and her friend lived on pizza and peanuts during their travels. Their two-month adventure was a trip of a lifetime. What a great book of memories. This lady has led a most wonderful life.
She is married to Dennis Dion, who is retired, but assists Donna by maintaining the building’s landscaping and upkeep. Appointment scheduling is also part of Mr. Dion’s responsibilities. “He keeps the place running efficiently,” says Donna. She and Dennis have two adult children, daughter Deseree, who is expecting their first grandchild in August, and son Devon.
Donna attends several hair conventions annually. Her favorite is the New York City International, held at the Jacob Javits Center. This convention seems to be the premier show for learning the latest and greatest cuts.
As Donna has been barbering for 43 years and thoroughly enjoying every minute of her day, she takes pleasure in citing the Mark Twain quote: “Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Donna obviously relishes her vocation, the clientele who visit her shop to look their best, and the happiness each day brings her as she jokes, cuts, and perfects each client’s style.  
On July 23, the 20-year anniversary date, she will be having a Customer Appreciation Day to celebrate. 
Erich’s Cutting Edge is at 304 Main Street, Oxford. Phone: (508) 987-1870. Hours: Mon/Tues/ Fri 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wed 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Thurs 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sat 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. Find them on Facebook. And, Donna says: “Walk-ins are welcome but we encourage you to make an appointment.” 
Contact Janet:  [email protected]