Local Barber Shops Provide Cuts, Camaraderie
Aug 29, 2019 09:16AM
By Kathleen Ganster
Photo courtesy Castelucci's Hair Salon and Barber Shop
For some families, cutting hair seems to be in their blood.
Gary Castelucci is following in his late father, Anthony’s, footsteps – his father opened Castelucci’s Hair Salon and Barber Shop in Kennedy Township 50 years ago when he was fresh out of the Army.
“He wanted to have his own business and knew he could make a good living cutting hair,” Castelucci said.
When Gary graduated from high school in 1977, he joined his dad.
“Back in the day, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’m a people person, so I decided this seemed like the right thing to do and I did it. And I’ve never looked back,” he said.
Small, independent barber shops are an important component to a community, Castelucci said. His shop now has third and fourth generation customers—in fact, they still have a few of the original clients. “I have a few customers in their 90s and some from different states who come visit when they’re in town,” he said.
Many have told him that they come for more than just a haircut, coloring or perm. “It is a meeting place. They trust me to do their hair, but they also ask me for information or for a contact for a project—whatever. Sometimes they even call me for advice,” he laughed.
Castelucci’s sister, Diane, helps fill in at the shop when Gary is on vacation.
“My daughter, Chrysta, also has her own salon in Boca Raton and when she comes to town, she works with me in our shop,” he said. “She is now the third generation of hair cutters for the Castelucci family.”
Harper’s Styling Barber Shop in Monaca is in its second generation. Jim Harper purchased a what was already an existing barber shop in 1978.
“I took it over from another barber who took it over from his dad so altogether, this building has been a barber shop for well over 100 years,” Harper said.
Like Castelucci, Harper believes that their shop is important to their town.
“You'll find a strong sense of familiarity and a high level of care and personalized service. We really know most of our customers, because they're not just customers, they're friends,” he said.
Just like Castelucci, Harper also finds himself sharing contacts and networking with other local individuals and businesses.
“When someone's in the chair, we strike up a conversation and you never know what we might end up talking about,” he said. “If they talk about something they need and we know a great local business who provides that product or service, we tell them about it.”
And then there is the advice part. “They tell us about their lives...good times, hard times, life changes. Sometimes we chime in with our own story that relates to theirs, but mostly, we listen,” said Daniel Harper, Jim’s son.
After 41 years, many of Harper’s customers are like family.
“It's really neat when you have a lot of customers who have been with you their whole lives. We get to watch them grow up, get jobs, get married, have kids, and everything in between,” Daniel said.
Emily Dilts has only owned her Hampton shop, Middle Road Barber Shop, for a little over a year, but the shop itself has been part of the community for more than 30 years.
“Small businesses are important because you actually participate one-on-one inside the community by building relationships,” she said. “You’re not making people into just a number.”
While Dilts is new to her shop, she has other barbers working with her who have strong ties to the community, and she also has longevity with her own customers, having spent more than 28 years in the business.
“Whether you need your baby's first haircut, sponsorship for an elementary school football team, or you’re a neighbor that needs to look good for work, we are your shop,” she said.