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Golden Locks: Northern Westchester Barbershop Marks 50th Year

Owner Mark Young with customer Dan Keon, 80, who has been coming to the Buchanan Barbershop since it opened. Photo Credit: Contributed
One of the funny signs in front of the shop. Photo Credit: Contributed

When it comes to traditional barbershops, only two things have changed at the Buchanan Barbershop since it opened its doors in 1968 — the prices and the fact that women can now get haircuts there.

Originally located across the street, the shop, also known as Phil's Barbershop, moved to its present location on White Street, when the original barbershop was torn down to create a park, said the owner, Mark Young.

“Sparky Tucker was the original owner,” said Young, “He was quite a character according to locals, who claimed nothing got in the way of his love of ponies. If there was a race happening, Sparky would abandon you mid-haircut, run down the road, place his bet, and return when the race was over.”

While Sparky was a gambler, he rarely won according to local legend: “Sparky grew up in Verplanck and one Halloween, when he was a teenager, pushed over the outhouse of Pauline, a local resident who was rumored to be a witch.

“Unfortunately she was in it when it flipped over,” said Young. “In retaliation, she placed a curse on Sparky giving him bad luck forever. This curse continues today. It’s not uncommon for something to be in a different place to where it was left, or for things to fall off the wall.”

When you enter the shop, you take a walk back through time. The barber chair is from 1910, the mirror is original, antique signs decorate the walls, and there are pictures of many clients on the wall.

Young took over the shop two years ago because he wanted to preserve a piece of history, and eliminate the time pressures that franchise owners place on their staff.

“The owners of corporate shops like Great Clips and Supercuts aren’t hairdressers or barbers, they don’t realize good haircuts takes time, and they limit how long their staff can spend on a customer’s hair," he added.

While the Buchanan Barbershop offers traditional services such as hot towel shaves, fades, high and tights, etc., it also has a growing number of female clients.

Young says women are tired of paying high prices for a shampoo, cut and blow dry when all they want is a haircut,” says Young. “Here, all haircuts are $17— except for kids and seniors who get a discount.

“I love working here,” said Young, who also volunteers for the Buchanan Engine Company. “Since I’m a member of the village fire department, I’m sometimes forced to close during business hours when the emergency siren goes off and I’m needed for a medical or fire call.”

Most locals know the spot, but if you need a good haircut, just look for the barber pole and a sign with a funny saying out front.

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