'Part of the family': Longtime Fairfield barber retiring after serving generations of clients

FAIRFIELD — The pursuit of the American dream is the belief that regardless of where someone may come from or what class they are born into they can achieve all of their dreams in America.

For Aldo Melchionno, the American dream is not a far-fetched idea. It is his life.

At the age of 14, Melchionno emmigrated from Italy to build a better life for himself. With the talent for hair, he built his success story by being a barber. Now after 51 years, Melchionno, a staple in the Fairfield community, will be retiring.

“Well it was great,” Melchionno said. “I enjoyed my customers and I hope they had the same feeling for me because they did come back. I had a great experience and I love my job.”

“I always loved improving the looks of my clients.”

Melchionno’s path to success started on paper routes shortly after coming to the country. In high school, he entered into the army reserves where he became a barber. A few years after having his first child, he opened his own shop in 1970 called Colonial Unisex Haircutters in Fairfield.

“I think the best part of my journey is that I treated my clients like it was part of family,” Melchionno said. “We had good relationships. I have third generation clients coming in and it’s been a great feeling to be in that position and also, it’s a great feeling to have the acknowledgment from the clients that my work is appreciated.”

Melchionno’s daughter Clara Cavalli said “it’s wonderful” that her dad has been able to serve generation after generation.

“I actually have a local pizza place in town as well and I get customers that say I know your dad. He cut my hair, my dad’s hair and my children’s hair. It’s really nice because he’s seen so many different generations grow up. He’s been in Fairfield for so long that people just know who he is,” Cavalli said.

“He sacrificed a lot,” she added. “He did whatever he could for the family. That was his goal everyday just to support his family and do the best that he could for his kids and his wife.”

Hard work, dedication, the love of family and entrepreneurship are just a few of the many values Melchionno taught his children.

“He just wanted to make our lives better,” Cavalli said.

On a barber’s salary, Melchionno scraped together whatever he could. His whole goal was to not allow his children to deal with the things that he had to. To put them into better situations.

“He sent us all to Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and we all went off to college. He paid for everything. He paid for our high school and our college because he didn’t want us to have loans. He didn’t want us to have to suffer. He really wanted the best for us so him and my mom did whatever they had to do,” Cavalli said.

The responsibility of a parent is often said to protect and prepare children for the future. Through his devotion, love for his family and clients, Melchionno was able to carve out his American dream story and impact many along the way.

As Melchionno gets set for retirement with the recent sale and slated demolition of his building, he heads to continue his second passion, his garden. He also reflects on what he was able to accomplish and do for his family.

“I think that I did the best I could in passing those values on,” Melchionno said. “I tried to instill those values in my children. I love my children and I did the best I could for them.”

While the exact date of Melchionno’s retirement is unknown at the moment, the longtime barber can still be found every day attending to his beloved clients in his chair at Post Road.