Reta Wallace remembers her hometown of McKeesport as a flourishing city. What once was the second largest city in Allegheny County, the downtown area of Fifth Avenue housed a variety of businesses. Most are no longer there.
Department, retail, jewelry and shoe stores as well as appliance and variety stores were a part of the mix. A branch of the now defunct National Record Mart and G.C. Murphy’s were there as well as H. L. Greens. However, the two business staples in McKeesport since the 1940’s that still operate are Progressive Music and Natale Sporting Goods. Next in line for longevity is Magic Palace Beauty Salon.
A people person, Reta Wallace the owner of Magic Palace has always experienced enjoyment in making people beautiful and feeling good about themselves. Claiming a customer base of more than 300 throughout the years, she says some have been with her since she opened her doors in 1991. Customers come from all over the Mon Valley including Pittsburgh, Jeanette, Charleroi and Monessen.
Staying afloat in a staggering economy and in a city in decline since her existence has not been easy. Wallace attributes her success and survival to providing good service, consistency and her clients being like family. “I love them and they love me. I treat them like queens and kings.” Often serving like a mentor, Wallace said “We confide in each other. They share things with me because they know Magic Palace operates in a professional manner, but at the sometime I pamper and lift their spirits.”