PORT CLINTON, Pa. - Just off the hectic highway of Route 61 in Schuylkill County sits the Port Clinton Barbershop. It's where the roar of the road gives way to live Christmas music and the perfect place for a holiday haircut.
"Customers become more friends. In other shops, in other places, you may not have that," said owner Frank Russo.
Russo, his wife, Teresa, and his 91-year-old dad, Rocco, run the place. In between trims, you'll see Rocco reading the paper and keeping tabs on Frank.
The shop doesn't so much resemble a salon but more like someone's living room, with relics from the past adorning the walls.
"A lot of things you see here were in other people's homes that their wives no longer wanted them to have, the deer heads, the turkeys, the stuffed animals," Russo explained.
Like any good family and friends gathering space, it encourages conversation.
"Most shops, you'll see that the individual is turned towards the mirror. It's one-on-one with the operator. Here, we want the customer to be a part of 'everyone else is doing something,'" Russo said.
Steve Eberhardt of Hamburg, Berks County, has been getting his cuts there for years, and he always looks forward to meeting new people, not just from the town, but, due to the shop's spot along the Appalachian Trail, all around the world.
"It's much, much more than a haircut," Eberhardt explained. "Meeting people from the area, meeting people from all around the world, as a matter of fact."
After their haircut, customers don't simply get up and go. They tend to linger for conversation, comradery and song.
Musician Tom Drogalis keeps coming back, even if he doesn't need a trim, rather, to play some tunes. He recalled his first visit years ago.
"The sign was on the side of the road. I had a little more hair then. There were some guys sitting around and they were trying to figure out how to play 'Blackbird' by the Beatles. This is my first time in the shop and I thought, 'I know how to play that,'" Drogalis recalled.
The live music blends right in with the buzzing of hair trimmers and scissor clips.
"The way I describe it to people is stepping back in time. The warmness, the friendliness, the décor," said Drogalis.
With haircuts costing only $8, Russo wants to make sure everyone can come to his shop.
"It's a poor man's country club," he said.
But that doesn't mean he wants you leaving not feeling unique.
"Everybody's special. Obviously, because that's important," Russo explained, "and you're very special when you're in this chair."
Russo said it’s a community connection that keeps people coming back.
"When you are working in the community with people that are honest, nice people, do the right thing, that comes back to you in many, many ways," he said.
But most importantly?
"And always give a great haircut," he said.
The Lehigh Tunnel on the northbound side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed for more than an hour Friday night after a wreck inside the tunnel.Read More »
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