After years of being vacant, the little red building next to will be a barbershop again come Tuesday – now called Lumani’s Ye Olde Barber Shoppe.
The late Bernie Zumbrowski, of Avon, ran Ye Old Barber Shoppe from about 1950 to 2002. When the 12 East Main St. building was established in 1820, it housed the Avon Post Office.
Southington resident John Lumani, 35 — who is leasing the space from Zumbrowski’s wife, Doris — is keeping with the times while also staying true to the history of the building with his new business. His wife Flora will be working part-time.
“The old timers knew this place as Bernie’s,” Lumani said.
Blending Vintage and Modern
His lease required him to keep Ye Olde Barber Shoppe in the name and he’s keeping the façade as is. The original barber’s stations and mirror inside remain intact and Lumani keeps old razors on display.
While electronic razors and a flatscreen TV give the space a modern flare and Lumani follows the latest hairstyles, customers won’t walk inside without experiencing a touch of the 19th and 20th Centuries.
The barbershop seats are vintage – the one near the door from East Haven was made in 1910 and the other from Brewster, NY was designed in 1930. There’s an 1870 cash register at the front, which Lumani plans to store candy in for child customers.
The Evolution of the Role of the Barber
Barbers have long been about more than just haircuts.
When doctors weren’t available, people used to go to barbers for wound treatment. Barbers would wrap the bloodied bandages around poles outside their shops, hanging them to dry and letting people know the “barber was in,” Lumani said. Red swirling marks stained the poles. That’s why you’ll see red and white poles outside barbershops worldwide. Blue stripes are sometimes included in the design for patriotism. Lumani is going to install an electric one outside of his barbershop.
Also, whenever men had questions and wanted to find out about a town, they’d ask the barber. Barbers settled debates between customers by finding out the answer and posting the information on the wall.
“Before Google, there were barbers. The final word on everything was always the barber’s word,” Lumani said.
The social component of barbershops hasn’t changed. People come to him for conversation as much as haircuts.
“You’re like a blog for the town,” Lumani said. “You know everything going on before it’s occurring.”
Lumani gets to know his regulars to the point that he knows how they want their hair done before they ask. He is also installing a small refrigerator to store cold drinks for customers and a microwave that the public can use.
For now, Lumani is predominantly taking walk-ins. He only plans to cut men’s and children’s hair – though he has some former female clients that like their hair cut short who may come to Avon for haircuts. Down the road, he said he wants to make it full-service.
Haircuts will cost $20 for adults, $18 for kids and $15 for a “hero’s haircut” for members of the military, police officers, firemen and EMS employees. Customers can also get highlights and men with graying hair can get it blackened with semi-permanent dye.
As a 2008 graduate from International Instuitute of Cosmetology in Wethersfield, Lumani has barber's and cosmetology licenses that he renews every two years per state law.
Lumani and his wife previously ran Central Cuts in New Britain, across from Central Connecticut State University. Most of his business came from students nine months out of the year. He expects to have an older clientele in Avon who used to be regulars at Ye Olde Barber Shoppe and more professionals. That will likely mean doing more traditional cuts. However, if clients want to go bolder, he can do that too, from Mohawks to fauxhawks – a trending style for kids to 30-year-olds.
Securing the New Avon Location
Finding Ye Olde Barber Shoppe was like fate for Lumani. As one of the founders of in Old Avon Village – renamed Avon Village Marketplace – in 2011, he passed by it a lot. But it wasn’t until he was driving on Route 44 looking for a new location for his barber business that he noticed it while sitting at a stoplight. He Googled it, read the Avon Patch about the vacant building, and called the owner in June about buying it.
Doris Zumbrowski and her two daughters now own the building through a trust.
“They have been trying to sell the location since [Bernie’s] passing,” Lumani said.
She met with him and gave him the price, but he ended working out an arrangement to rent the building. He signed a lease in July.
“I’m in love with this place,” he said.
Lumani looked in Farmington too for vacant businesses because it was the town where his family owned and ran Rossini’s Italian Restaurant. They sold it to Nick Romano in 2007, making way for Joey Garlic’s.
“It was a blessing in disguise looking back on it because I love what I do so much more now than what I used to do back then,” Lumani said.
Lumani's Ye Olde Barber Shoppe is located on 12 East Main Street. Its hours will be Tuesdays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, you can visit hairdonebetter.com, call 860-404-5569, text 203-881-6967, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Lumani is also working on setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the barbershop.