AYER -- A stone's throw from the police station and in almost a hidden corner of a small strip plaza is the beloved Professional Hair Design, a favorite spot for women and men for over 15 years. Located at 70 Park St., this cozy spot feels right out of the Andy Griffith show and its friendly, joyous vibes are very much part of the ambience.

Betty Mahon and Sunny Oppel, who have been great friends for close to three decades, are the owners and partners. Mahon lives in Pepperell and Oppel and her family live in Ayer, where her husband, Hyun Du, a heart-transplant survivor, has a dry cleaning and tailor shop at 47 Main St.

Both these professionals love what they do and their customers are outrageously devoted. Some longtime customers drive from Rindge, N.H., and even Hudson, N.H., like longtime customer Mary Jarril, who became a customer when she was stationed at Devens. "Not only do these gals do a terrific job, but I very much enjoy the social aspect of this shop. I come not only for quality work but for real friendship. That's not something you usually find in a salon. I am never treated like a customer, I am treated like a friend!"

Oppel remembers meeting Mahon at a salon where Mahon worked. "Betty hired me and it was my first job," she says, "We became friends and soon we talked about having our own place. I knew I didn't want to work with anyone else and Betty felt the same way.



Mahon chimed in, "I always loved this profession and I could tell Sunny felt the same way, sometimes you meet someone and everything just clicks. It was like that with Sunny and me. We're very lucky, not only because we enjoy working together, but because we love our customers and they love us, too! I couldn't imagine doing anything else but this."

Mahon is a breast-cancer survivor and she is a volunteer who donates her time to help other women by participating in the Look Good Feel Better program operated by the American cancer society. This program works with cancer survivors to provide professional help so they can look their best. Visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org for information.

Staffers include Therese Garner, whose business card says, "cuticle concierge." Also on the team are Janet Mita and Patty Love.