By: Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
The first place Duquesne students think of for haircuts is changing.
Sitting at 1509 East Carson St. is South Side Barber Shop. This fresh and exciting take on a classic always delivers.
When you walk in the barbers are always welcoming. The music is usually playing and if the weather permits they will open the windows in the front of the store. The atmosphere just makes you want to stay. The barbers joke around and serve as entertainment while you wait no more than 15-20 minutes for your turn in the chair.
Aside from the atmosphere, the cut itself is a very good reason to get down there. Hair is cut with precision. Time is taken with each cut. Facial hair is manicured to the liking of the customer. These talented barbers revitalize a lost art, the straight razor. They also bring a hint of new school with shampoos, hair colors and head massages. Whatever you need regarding your hair they have you covered.
The shop, which has been open for two years, is adorned from top to bottom with Pittsburgh and Duquesne sports paraphernalia. You will also spot the unofficial mascot, Kona, a pomeranian, who sports a mohawk and often a Steelers shirt. The shop is small, but comfortable for people waiting, thanks to the long couches. Customers feel like the barbers can talk about anything from sports to pop culture.
Some part of the crew of John “JC” Caputo, the owner, Eron Gonze, the manager, Roger “RC” Cunningham and several others are there from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The flexible hours and proximity to Duquesne make it the choice of many Duquesne students.
Gonze sees a high percentage of Duquesne students.
“We probably get a couple everyday,” he said.
A little under two years ago, when Duquesne changed their basketball coaching staff, a whole new staff was brought in. One of the assistant coaches, Danny Lawson, immediately found South Side Barber Shop.
When Lawson started at Duquesne, South Side Barber Shop was an easy choice.
“The proximity. We got hired as a new staff so the five of us lived in the dorms,” he said. “Also the hours. As coaches we work long hours and being that they are open until 9 makes it easy to pop in for a cut.”
Lawson decided to keep going back for two reasons.
“Eron is a great barber,” he said. “It’s a really friendly atmosphere.”
He along with coach John Rhodes came regularly and they also brought with them several Duquesne athletes.
“It started off with just the basketball team,” Gonze recalled.
“Now pretty much the whole football team comes,” Cunningham added.
The experience is not just about hair.
“The barbers take interest in the guys. They want to talk about the team, about school and about their lives,” Lawson said.
If you need to know when the next Duquesne sporting event is just stop by the shop. If one of the barbers isn’t talking about or wearing the gear, then you can just check the full athletics calendar that is always hanging in the shop.
I got my hair cut at the shop. When I walked in there were two people ahead of me in line. I was out of the shop in under an hour. The precision on my hairline is unlike anything I’ve had since the last time I lived at home four years ago. The straight razor, used to touch up my facial hair, really makes the lines stand out. Also the haircut was affordable. You can almost always get out of there with a haircut for under $20. They also offer a $2 student discount if they see the school ID.
Gonze himself will often give out 40-60 haircuts on an average day. The probably get close to 80 customers a day, which considering they only opened two years ago speaks volumes about the reputations of the barbers who have over 90 years of combined experience.
Gonze takes the time to make sure each customer knows that he is interested in their lives. When talking to me we related on our less than stellar histories.
“I have made many mistakes in life, so I encourage the students not to make the same ones,” Gonze said. “But, I wouldn’t take any of it back because I love cutting hair everyday.”