Flipping their wigs: Broomes are retiring after four decades selling hair in Morristown

 

Jim and Bessie Broome are pulling their hair out about retirement.

More precisely, they are pulling their wigs out.

The Beauty Charm Company  that Jim founded on Speedwell Avenue in Morristown way back in 1970 will be closing on Aug. 28, 2014.

After transforming countless pates from shiny to stylish with a dizzying assortment of real and synthetic hairpieces, the Broomes have decided they have had enough 10-hour days and six-day weeks.  They are in the process of selling their building at 88 Speedwell Ave., across from the Hyatt.

“It’s time for us to take some time and enjoy life now,” said Bessie Broome, who is looking  forward to traveling and spending time with their 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Want some wigs?  Make an offer.

NO MORE SPLITTING HAIRS: Jim Broome is quitting the wig business. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

NO MORE SPLITTING HAIRS: Jim Broome is quitting the wig business. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“I have the largest inventory in New Jersey!” said a proud Jim Broome, who moved from his native South Carolina to New Jersey in the early 1960s as a manual laborer with $40 to his name.

“I have wigs for men, women and children. Left-side parts, right-side parts, no parts,” he said one day last week.

Blonde wigs, mixed-race wigs, jet black wigs. The Broomes have ‘em.  Irish? Need red-and-gray?  No problem!  “I can match any colors,” Jim said.

It was a chance meeting with a wig wholesaler years ago that convinced him to return to school and learn the ins and outs of the business.

After scrimping and saving, he opened stores in Newark and East Orange; Morristown is the last to go.

“Not only are they great retailers, but they are wonderful people,” Michael Fabrizio, executive director of the Morristown Partnership, said of the Broomes.

“Although we’re sad to see them go, it is a much deserved retirement.  It’s truly a loss to Morristown and the community because they did so much for so many.”

The family has supported numerous sports groups and church fundraisers over the decades. The business–which includes the Broomes’ son, James IV, and longtime employee Maria Zapata–has evolved from catering to customers who wanted to look like Dolly Parton or Farrah Fawcett  to providing cosmetic comfort to people dealing with chemotherapy, burns, premature baldness and other conditions.

“We tried to be the friendliest place in town by offering personalized service that we hoped would build our customers’ trust,” Broome said. “We always tried to get people to smile. A robot can’t give you a hug or talk to you.”

Locals teased Jim when he opened his store across from a “giant hole in the ground,” he said. That hole was filled by Headquarters Plaza and the Hyatt.  Mayor Tim Dougherty vowed to make sure the Speedwell Avenue redevelopment will justify the Broomes’ faith in the neighborhood, and the faith of the next owners of the Broomes’ property.

“We’re sad to see them retire,” the Mayor said. “They were a great asset to the community. We hope they have another 44 years of great retirement.”

Beauty Charm promoted itself with radio jingles, opened a barber shop, offered hair care products from around the world and even sold top R&B and gospel songs–on 45 r.p.m. records and 8-track and cassette tapes. Singer Wilson Pickett and NY Giants star Lawrence Taylor were among the celebrities who paid visits.

Jim declined to discuss the new owners until the sale closes. But he wanted to be clear about one thing: The Broomes aren’t going anywhere.

“I’m not leaving town. I’m just retiring,” Jim said. “I love Morristown! And I will stay, unless the taxes chase me out.”

 

James Broome IV, left, with his dad, Jim Broome, founder of the Beauty Charm Co. in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

James Broome IV, left, with his dad, Jim Broome, founder of the Beauty Charm Co. in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

 



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