Sixty Years Behind the Barber Chair
Most weekdays and every Saturday morning starting at 6 am, Domenic & Pietro’s Barber Studio in Ho-Ho-Kus has very few empty chairs. Men come from all over the area to this local institution, in business since 1970 and owned by Domenic Parisi. We were able to grab a chair between cuts and speak with Domenic about becoming a barber in Sicily at age 12, his first job in Hackensack two years later, twice monthly barber appointments with a former president and as his 50th year in town approaches, why he wouldn’t change a thing about his life.
On growing up in Sicily:
“I was born in Sicily, one of eight kids. Back then, the responsibility of parents was to teach their kids a trade so that they didn’t have to work on a farm. My dad had a horse, and one day when I was 6, we went to his friend the blacksmith. While there, my dad asked him if he could teach me his trade, so every day for the next six years I went to him after school. When I was 12, my dad moved to Hackensack to live with family and get work before sending for us, and in the first letter he sent to my mother, he wrote: ‘There are no horses in Hackensack. Tell Domenic to become a barber!’ So for the next two years, before we moved, I learned how to be a barber.”
On moving to Hackensack:
“When we moved to Hackensack, I went to the local high school, and one day after school, I walked into a local barbershop and was amazed to see all of the different kinds of haircuts. I told the owner I was a barber from Italy but only 14 so I couldn’t work yet. He said the inspector only comes in the mornings, so I could start right away working after school, which I did. Living in a family of eight kids, there was no allowance or new car after graduation—no such things were promised—so when I was 16 and saw an ad in the paper looking for a full-time barber in River Edge, I started working there.”
On becoming a barber in Ho-Ho-Kus:
I met my wife, Linda, when we were both 18, and we were married two years later. Because we were thinking about starting a family, I knew I needed to make more money, so I started working at Little Joe & John’s Barber Shop in Glen Rock for double the salary. One day, a gentleman came in looking for a job by the name of Pietro Maugeri. We hit it off right away and two years later, in 1970, opened Domenic & Pietro’s Barber Studio in Ho-Ho-Kus where I still am today. He was the greatest guy I have ever met, and unfortunately, he passed away 15 years ago. I still miss him a lot.”
On why he’s stayed:
“I’ve been here almost 50 years and never had to work a day in my life because I love my job, the people I work with and the relationships I’ve built. I have customers who come all the way from River Edge, from my first job over 50 years ago, who were 15 or 16 when I started there; they still come to me today. These people are like family to me. I’ve seen them every month for all of those years. Some of them know more about me than my wife does! That’s how close you get to people.
“For nine years, I had a former president of the United States in every two weeks. President Nixon would come in, and we never once talked about politics. It was always sports or our families. Nobody bothered him; he was good to kids and signed some books. It was a nice experience.”
On the future:
“I’ve been mentioned in eulogies a couple of times and am always so surprised and touched that they even think of me in moments like that. I could mention hundreds of names of fathers and sons who have come to me, but your magazine is not going to be big enough to put all of those names. My son Joseph has been working with me since 1986, and I feel so lucky and a little selfish because I have gotten to spend all of these years with him working every day. I’m 75 now, and when people ask me when I’m going to retire, I usually tell them maybe I’ll wait until Joseph retires and then we can retire together. Everybody gets a big laugh out of that, but who knows? Maybe that’s what it will be.”
Domenic & Pietro’s Barber Studio
616 N. Maple Ave., Ho-Ho-Kus