For just the second time in 38 years, Vinnie’s Barber Shop in Amagansett is moving.
But Vinnie Mazzeo’s loyal clients, many of whom queue up, newspapers and coffee in hand, before the shop’s 6:30 a.m. opening, can take comfort. The new location, behind the Meeting House restaurant on Amagansett Square, is a mere stone’s throw from the comfortable Main Street shop he has occupied since 1980.
What’s more, Mr. Mazzeo said last week, the new location will be, to the extent possible, a re-creation of the existing one — the photos, news clippings, and collection of paper currency to be transported and displayed as before. He expects to be moved in and open for business by New Year’s Day.
The building that Vinnie’s has called home for 33 years is for sale. “They’re not throwing us out,” Mr. Mazzeo said. Rather, “we’re doing a proactive thing. Before the place does get sold — and then everybody’s going to be scurrying, especially in Amagansett where there’s not a lot of space available. We gave ourselves an early shot at finding another location in Amagansett.”
The change of address is, ironically, about maintaining a continuity that few businesses can claim. The son of a hairdresser, husband of a hairdresser, and father of — you guessed it — a hairdresser (his daughter is a co-owner of Capelli Hair and Skin in Bridgehampton), Mr. Mazzeo’s son, Nick, is also a barber and his business partner. “We’re just trying to keep ourselves secure, especially for my son, who’s got three children, a mortgage,” he said of the move.
That continuity befits a lifelong resident of the South Fork. A Sag Harbor native, Mr. Mazzeo attended Inter-County Barber School in Babylon after graduation from high school in 1968. “After barber school, I joined the military,” he said. “Of course, they had the draft, so I enlisted in the Navy because that was one branch of the service that I could practice my profession in, rather than the Marines, the Army, or the Air Force — they usually have civilian barbers.”
Mr. Mazzeo was a ship’s serviceman, responsible for managing and operating all shipboard retail and service activities. “They play a large role in the morale of the ship,” a United States Navy website says of ship’s servicemen.
In the course of his four-year stint, Mr. Mazzeo spent about a year on a destroyer in the Mediterranean (the vessel is depicted in a photograph on a particularly well-decorated wall in the barbershop). “Barber, tailoring, laundry, I ran the ship’s store onboard,” he remembered. “I sold anything from a Hershey bar to a stereo system.”
After the Navy, he worked for two years at a barbershop in East Hampton before moving to Amagansett, where he opened his first shop, farther east on Main Street, in 1975. “I was there for five years. I moved to this location in 1980 and have been here for 33 years,” he said.
Surveying those 33 years’ worth of adornments on the walls of his soon-to-be-vacated space, Mr. Mazzeo observed that his business is “more of a museum than a barbershop,” and has been likened to a Norman Rockwell painting. But, he said, “I think it’s going to be a good move for us.”
There is sufficient clientele, Mr. Mazzeo said, to keep him and Nick, who joined his father in 1999, busy throughout the year. Many of them are second-home owners who retired and now live on the South Fork year round, he said. The Amagansett location also draws customers who reside everywhere from Montauk to Wainscott and Sag Harbor. “It does slow down in the wintertime,” he said, “but we have a nice base” that keeps both men busy.
“I enjoy what I do,” said Mr. Mazzeo, who is 63. “I enjoy working with my son. I don’t think there are too many father-son teams that could work together. We’re a team, and I think people like coming here. Right, Theodore?” he said, to a freshly shorn customer.
“I love it,” was the reply.