WARRENSBURG — Debby Lotspeich, hairdresser and owner of Dottie’s Beauty Salon, has decided to retire after 48 years of work and to close the salon her mother, Dottie Ross, started 61 years ago.
Ross opened Dottie’s Beauty Salon in 1959 at 208 N. Maguire St.
The salon was converted from a garage that was located adjacent to Ross’ home at the address.
“I used to sit and watch [my mother] work until close,” Lotspeich said.
Lotspeich started working in her mother’s salon in 1971, after graduating from Central Missouri College of Cosmetology.
Ross moved her salon to its current location at 1035 S. Maguire St. around 1984.
Today, the address of the former shop is occupied by AutoZone Auto Parts.
Similarly to the first location, Ross operated her salon out of a renovated garage on the property.
Lotspeich said that local residents Joe Good and Sterling Tyler worked to remodel the garage into a beauty salon.
At one point, three generations worked at the salon when Ross’ granddaughter and Lotspeich’s niece, Tedra Rodriguez, began working alongside Ross and Lotspeich as a hair and nail technician in 1996.
A number of people in Ross’ family have had similar occupations such as her sister who was a hairdresser, her mother-in-law, Myrtle Ross, was also a hairdresser and owned a shop called Suzanne’s and her mother’s seven brothers who were almost all barbers.
Ross told the Daily Star-Journal in 1996, “It’s in the family ... We just grew up with it.”
Lotspeich began running the salon after Ross retired.
“I was lucky that the business was already kind of built-in,” Lotspeich said.
With Dottie’s Beauty Salon being a multi-generational business, a number of Lotspeich’s customers had gotten their hair cut by Ross before she took over for her.
Lotspeich said she even had a customer who had her hair cut by Lotspeich’s grandmother as well as her mother before getting her hair cut by Lotspeich.
Having been in the business for a while herself, Lotspeich also had customers whose hair she had cut for their entire lives.
In the years since Lotspeich began cutting hair, she has seen a number of changes in the industry.
Lotspeich said it’s important for hairdressers to stay up to date on hairstyle trends as they change through the years.
She recalled attending hairdressing expos and conventions with her family members, something she finds less prevalent in the trade today.
“It’s changed a lot,” Lotspeich said. “It’s probably time for me to get out.”
Lotspeich’s decision to retire came after the departure of her co-workers.
Kathy Crowden worked at Dottie’s Beauty Salon for about 11 years before leaving her position in December 2019.
Crowden’s daughter, Karie Camm, also worked at the salon for a while, beginning in 2013.
With Crowden no longer at the salon, Lotspeich saw this as a good time to retire.
However, Lotspeich emphasized that their departures were not the sole reason for retiring and closing the salon.
Lotspeich said she was preparing to retire herself over the past year as she went down to only working on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Lotspeich also explained the strains that standing all day, sometimes off-balance, can have on the body after so many years.
“When you shampoo, for instance, you’re kind of off and standing on one leg,” Lotspeich said. “My aunt’s leg over the years ended up shorter than the other.”
As her time at the salon drew to a close, Lotspeich spoke with her regulars to ensure they would have a new hairdresser to visit once she retired.
This involved Lotspeich calling other hairdressers in the area and asking them if they would accept new customers.
“I tried to find the right hairdressers for my customers to go to,” Lotspeich said.
With the extra free time that comes with retirement, Lotspeich said she hopes to complete a goal she has had in mind for quite a while.
“I’ve been wanting to build a home for about 30 years,” Lotspeich said.
Lotspeich still owns the former salon building at the moment, but said she plans to sell it in the future.