Someone 2 Know: Alan Squailia - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Someone 2 Know: Alan Squailia

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Alan Squailia has an eye for beauty. "Ooh, look at this one," he comments while arranging a wall of wigs at the back of his salon. Alan does not just have an eye for hair, however. He finds beauty inside everyone who sits in his chair. He has a gift of making women feel glamorous – even when they don't feel it; particularly during chemotherapy treatment.

When Alan was just 15 years old, he lost his mother to breast cancer. Since then, he vowed to spend his life helping other women battling the disease. So, 48 years ago, he opened Bellissima Beauty and Wig Salon. "It's amazing. I actually sold [wigs] out of the trunk of my car for two years before opening Bellissima, so it's actually be closer to 50 years," Alan recalls.

For five decades, he has fitted and styled wigs for women who are losing their own locks. "A lot of times people come in crying. They don't want to be here." After spending a little time with Alan, however, those same people start feeling better, because Alan helps them regain their confidence by giving them a new look. Even the women who cannot afford a couple hundred dollar wig come out smiling. Alan has built relationships with various cancer organizations around town and together they found grants to help pay for wigs that some patients cannot afford.

As a result of his heart, Alan has stacks and scrapbooks of thank you cards and letters. As we sorted through them, he made a confession, "We get probably more out of helping patients, than they get out of it." That is why the decision he recently made to retire was so difficult. "When we're working, especially with cancer patients, it's so uplifting to be able to help people; you don't want to leave it."

A life-changing event helped Alan make this decision. Over the past year, he not only worked with cancer patients – he became one. Alan just beat prostate cancer. "It does make you say, ‘hmm, maybe I better go out and do some more stuff. Go out and smell the roses.'" So, the 69-year-old believes now is the perfect time to hand his business over to a longtime colleague and friend, Shawn Quiring, who vows to treat every customer who comes into their California Avenue shop just like Alan did. "He loves them when they walk in the door. It's amazing. It doesn't matter if he doesn't even know them. After years of fostering those relationships, there is no easy way to say goodbye. With tears in his eyes, Alan said, "Some clients I've had for 40 years, when I tell them - they start crying. And so do I," he laughs "Emotional Italian."

While Alan is very much looking forward to traveling with his wife, he still plans to play an active role in cancer organizations around town. Happy retirement, Alan!

Written by Kristen Remington

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