Streeter’s Barber Shop in Bernardston closes, thanks loyal customers

  • Streeter’s Barber Shop in Bernardston, pictured through the window, closed its doors on April 13. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Next to a picture of a sad dog in the window of Streeter’s Barber Shop in Bernardston is a note thanking customers for “many great days” of business. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • After two decades in business, Streeter’s Barber Shop in Bernardston quietly closed its doors on April 13. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • After two decades in business, Streeter’s Barber Shop in Bernardston quietly closed its doors on April 13. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Owner John Rogers cuts the hair of regular customer Robert Sanstock at Streeter’s Barber Shop in Bernardston in 2018. After 20 years in business, the shop closed its doors on April 13. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/22/2021 2:29:16 PM

BERNARDSTON — After two decades in business, Streeter’s Barber Shop quietly closed its doors on April 13, with 92-year-old owner John Rogers leaving a note in the shop window thanking customers for the “many great days” in Bernardston.

The barbershop has been housed in the small white shack off Route 10, dwarfed by the Kringle Candle factory just uphill behind it since Rogers opened in 2001. With its reupholstered vintage barber chair and linen closet that doubles as a bathroom, the building is modeled after an old-fashioned barbershop, a kind that Rogers says has become increasingly rare.

The main reason for closing, Rogers said, is that he rents the building and the property owner is selling the 3.5 acre parcel at 1 Northfield Road on which the shack sits. Rogers said he has no qualms with the landowner selling the property, adding that they’ve had a “wonderful” working relationship over the years.

Secondly, Rogers pointed to changes in the industry, and new COVID-19 health safety restrictions. Rogers said the state is requiring new inspections, as well as new rules and regulations.

“Even after that, once they can get rid of (COVID-19), there’s still stuff that will be in place … and I’m not going to get involved with any new restrictions,” Rogers said. “I’ve run my shop the way I’ve seen fit. It’s been good and I enjoy it, and I enjoy my customers.”

The small building was originally the office space for a Pontiac dealership in Greenfield. (The dealership’s old location, on Federal Street near Silver Street, is now a Honda dealership.) In the early 1960s, Rogers said, the Streeter family bought the building and had it relocated to Bernardston to house the barbershop, which at the time shared space with Streeter’s General Store, in the building that is now Hillside Pizza.

While Rogers has held a number of jobs over his lifetime, he would often fall back to his skills as a barber. While living in Wilmington, Vt. in the early ’60s, Rogers operated what he says was the first mobile barbershop in the country — a pickup truck rigged to a trailer that housed a whole barbershop. In 1991, Rogers and his wife, Phyllis, moved from Vermont to Mississippi, where they thought they would retire, but Rogers quickly found he just couldn’t sit still. He bought a barbershop, and eventually sold it to one of his employees before moving back to Massachusetts.

Rogers has a book in the shop called “The Vanishing Barbershop,” which he uses as a model for Streeter’s. The pictures of the old-fashioned, iconic barbershops and atmosphere held by Streeter’s is one that has begun to fade over time, he said.

“I went to barber school in 1956, and we had to study the circulatory system, the digestive system — everything,” Rogers recalled.

Studies of anatomy and physiology are essential components of classic barber training. Knowledge of cranial and facial bones assists in the performance of haircutting, shaving and facial hair design. When working with straight razors, a barber’s knowledge of the circulatory system and where veins are located in a person’s face, neck and head is essential for safety.

Rogers said he’ll find ways to fill time after closing the shop, but he’ll miss the visits from regulars who stop in frequently for a quick haircut — more often an excuse for friendly conversation. A smile spread across his face as he recalled interactions with customers over the years. One customer, whose father has Alzheimer’s disease, called just the other week, and when Rogers told her about his decision to close the shop, she asked if he would still see her father to cut his hair and chat.

“She said, ‘He loves to come over to your place. That’s the highlight of his life now,’” Rogers recounted.

Another customer faithfully came in for a haircut every two weeks for about 10 years.

“I told him they were one of my best customers, and he told me, ‘Well don’t get too puffy, it isn’t your haircuts that I come in for, but you’re a goddamn good conversationalist,’” Rogers said with a chuckle.

He added, “There’s so many nice people in this world, but here in Bernardston, some of these old guys, they are wonderful.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.




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