Tony’s Barbershop is a classic barbershop. The classic fire truck seat for kids cuts. The smell of talcum powder. The framed images from classic Boston sports moments. All of these are elements of that classic barbershop feel. Dave Gagne took the time to cut my hair while he talked to Winchester Patch about cutting hair.
How long have you been cutting hair?
Well, this place is called Tony’s. Tony was here 17 year, I’ve been here 15.
Did you work under Tony?
For about five months, but he decided to move south and I slid right in.
And that was just a matter of good timing?
Well, I lived in Winchester and he was my barber. Once I became a barber, he was after me for a bit to try and get me to work for him. I had the opportunity to take over and I did.
How did you get into hair cutting?
I switched careers. I used to be a tennis pro coach.
A tennis pro coach. The reason I got out of it was I got hurt one year with a knee injury and was off the court. Then I got really bad sunburn. Indoors is easy, but outdoors just fried me. I’ve got really fair skin and I just figured ‘what am I going to be like when I’m 45 or 50 years old?’
When was this?
That was back in the early 90’s. So here I am almost 50 and I’ve been doing it since then and I really like it because whether it’s tennis or this job, you deal with people all the time. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I was talking to Tony, he started talking about it and it sounded fun and good and if you work hard you can make a good living on it.
When you talk about getting to know people, are you the guy who gets the lowdown on what’s going on in town?
You really do. You hear tons of stuff from men and women. You get to hear a bit of dirt, but mostly you hear the good things.
More good than bad?
Oh yeah. Winchester is a great town with good people in it and I get the chance to know more than most and they know it’s safe in here. It was the same way when I was a tennis pro. But doing something you like is great. I stand here all day and talk to people.
Was Tony an employer or a mentor?
Both. He taught me quite a lot. I learned more from him in five months than I did at school. He was fantastic.
What were the things he taught you?
Oh, the finer parts of barbering and how to talk to customers. He did a great job of letting people know who I was before he left. People poke their head in just to say ‘hi.’
That has to be pretty rewarding.
(A customer walks in, then the conversation resumes.)
So what makes you different from any other barbershop?
Well, we have this massage chair that you may never want to get out of. We offer a total relax package with a haircut, a hot towel and then you sit in this massage chair here for five minutes. Most people get a hot towel after a straight razor shave, but a lot of people like it. I give a brief neck message first, then you get the towel, and you hit the chair.
One of the coolest parts of this job is that people come here and they hang out a bit. People who are out and about doing chores on Saturday will come back if it isn’t too busy. They like to come in, chat, watch the highlights (on the T.V. mounted on the wall) and they don’t have to lie about where they’ve been. They hit the bank, they go to the dump and they come to hang out before they get a haircut. People love that environment or they choose the house call.
You do house calls?
Well, I just hired another barber. So with two of us, that’s now a possibility. If someone can't get out of their house for one reason or another, if they were recovering or permanently out of commission or something like that. So I go do house calls for them. There was one family with four boys. Try to schedule that in, it’s almost impossible. So the mother called me one night and asked if I could come over at 7 p.m. when the all the boys were home.