With close shaves and neatly trimmed hair, parted and slick with pomade, the well-dressed proprietors, employee, and customers of Loyalty Barber Shop & Shave Parlor (7 Kennedy Dr., Archbald) seem to have walked out of the 1930s and ‚??40s.
Their gauged ears and detailed tattoos from neck to toe, however, remind you that it‚??s still 2012.
The mix of cultures ‚?? traditional barber shops and modern ink ‚?? is a trend that co-owner Brian Nardella, 38, observed rising in Northeast Pennsylvania just a few years ago.
‚??My take on it all kind of stems from getting involved with a certain music scene, like a rockabilly type thing. I started buying old classic cars and going to shows. What I noticed at shows was almost everybody was wearing these very haircuts that we‚??re cutting today. That‚??s what really got me hooked on that,‚?Ě Nardella recalled.
‚??If you look at the music scene, you‚??ll even notice guys that used to have long hair are now shedding their long hair for these classic haircuts. I don‚??t know what the phenomenon is with it, but for a while barbers were dead. Nobody went to barbers. Kids will say, ‚??My grandfather goes to a barber.‚?? ‚?ĽThe mohawks are now turning into nice, parted haircuts.‚?Ě
‚??It used to be one of those things with the rockabilly, psychobilly, hot rod culture. Now, we‚??ve got lots of hardcore kids that come in here,‚?Ě co-owner Jim Simon, 33, continued. He noted that the connection between tattooing and barbering may have started when tattooing was banned in New York City because of a hepatitis outbreak decades back, forcing artists to work in secret in the back rooms of barber shops.
‚??It‚??s all coming full circle. They‚??re all going back to a ‚??30s style haircut that their grandfather or great grandfather used to have. We have countless tattoo artists that come in here that are loving the style.‚?Ě
Formerly Big Daddy‚??s, the shop was taken over, renovated, and reopened by Simon, Nardella, and co-owner Joe Siconolfi, 37, in January, its crimson walls covered with framed tattoo art and items from other local businesses. While the job perfectly fits the trio and their steady customer base, their career paths were not always so clear.
Siconolfi owned several businesses before Loyalty, Simon was a land surveyor for a civil engineering company and later worked in the gas industry, and Nardella tried careers in law enforcement and graphic design. Anthony Ranella, 33, who was hired at the shop seven months ago, was a union electrician.
Now their lives revolve around straight razor shaves, lather, bay rum, and hot towels, specializing in hard parts, whitewalls, pompadours, high and tights, slicked backs, flattops, and skin fades, among other styles. Siconolfi even developed his own pomade, Olde Anthracite, in two different scents.
‚??Basically, the way I viewed it is I can‚??t tattoo, I suck with my hands as far as mechanical abilities, and I can‚??t play an instrument, so to me, this was the next best way to touch every one of those things I enjoyed,‚?Ě Nardella emphasized.
‚??A haircut is a haircut is a haircut, but I think there‚??s a lot more involved than just the haircut. There are guys that get something as simple as a crew cut, which any one of us could do, but will specifically wait for me because they want to bulls--t about cars, or they‚??ll wait for Jim because they want to talk about tattoos or guns.‚?Ě
The shop‚??s name may have been taken from a friend‚??s former tattoo parlor, but ‚??Loyalty‚?Ě wholly describes their faithful customers, who often crack open cold cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and chat about their shared interests or daily troubles.
‚??It‚??s OK to be whoever you wanted to be in this environment. The shop is almost like a social club at times because people come here all the time and don‚??t get cut. They might come once a month, but they‚??ll come here a couple times a week sometimes just to hang out. They‚??ll stop by on their way home from work,‚?Ě Simon explained.
Some of their regulars come from Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Hazleton, Ashley, the Pocono Mountains, and as far away as New York and New Jersey.
‚??We barely advertise. It‚??s all by word of mouth. We pride ourselves on the quality of the work, and that‚??s why people keep coming here‚?Ľ We‚??ve gained so many friends; they‚??re so great. It‚??s like not even being at work some days,‚?Ě Simon continued.
‚??It was super busy one day, and we were turning them out. I was cutting this guy‚??s hair and he was b--ching that the wait wasn‚??t long enough,‚?Ě Ranella added with a laugh.
It is more than just a profession, they insist ‚?? it‚??s a lifestyle.
‚??I think we‚??re even staying loyal to the trade. We‚??re doing it the way that it was done 100 years ago. Traditional barbering ‚?? straight razor head shaves, face shaves, neck shaves. We‚??re sticking to classic haircuts that will never go out of style,‚?Ě Simon acknowledged.
‚??I wouldn‚??t go to a barber shop when I was a kid because it was where my uncle and my dad and my grandfather went. They were awesome at cutting hair, but they didn‚??t know the current styles. If I wanted spiky hair in the ‚??80s, I got a flattop.
‚??You couldn‚??t go to an 80-year-old barber and be like, ‚??The singer for Gaslight Anthem ‚?? did you see his haircut? That‚??s what I want it to look like!‚?? I know exactly what you‚??re talking about. The culture is such a huge aspect of it.‚?Ě
‚??The owner of The Bog (in downtown Scranton) made the joke that he could spot our haircuts there a mile away,‚?Ě Nardella added. ‚??It‚??s interesting that we‚??re kind of building our own niche.‚?Ě
Loyalty Barbershop & Shave Parlor (7 Kennedy Dr., Archbald). Tues.-Thurs. ‚?? 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri. ‚?? 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat. ‚?? 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Before Loyalty Barber Shop‚??s scheduled interview with The Weekender, co-owner Joe Siconolfi was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and has been unable to work. To help him pay for his medical bills, their close friends at the Electric City Tattoo Gallery (620 Spruce St., Scranton) will hold a benefit Nov. 4 from noon until the last tattoo is finished. A sheet of designs, drawn by artists from several shops volunteering their time, will be posted, with each costing $50. A straight razor enthusiast and ‚??fanatic‚?Ě about shaving, Siconolfi collects blades, soaps, razor strops, special brushes, and even restored a 1910 barber chair that sits in the corner of the shop. ‚??His razor collection is something for a museum. It‚??s ridiculous,‚?Ě co-owner Jim Simon described. ‚??It‚??s a huge part of his life. He got other people into it as well.‚?Ě Noting his ‚??larger-than-life personality,‚?Ě humor, and strength, Simon referred to his friend as ‚??the heart of the shop.‚?Ě ‚??I‚??ve never seen someone more committed to barbering than Joe. I can‚??t imagine him doing anything else.‚?Ě For more info on the benefit, visit facebook.com/events/510500972310699/.