Oscar's Barber Shop in Northport closes after 52 years of charging $3.50 for a haircut

Richard Pastore has been cutting hair in this Main Street store since 1962. After 52 years of charging just $3.50 for all haircuts, he is closing the barbershop and retiring at the end of July. July 30, 2014 (Credit: Newsday/ Alejandra Villa)

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Back when Richard Pastore opened his Northport barbershop in 1962, he charged his customers $3.50 for a haircut. Fifty-two years later, the price remains the same: $3.50.

But the bargain is coming to an end. Pastore began telling his customers two months ago he was closing his shop at 209 Main St. as of Thursday and retiring.

"I've been in a building since 1962," Pastore, 69, who lives in Jamesport on the North Fork, said. "I just need more time to do different things, I want to travel more."

When he opened his Oscar's Barber Shop, keeping the name used by a previous shop at that address, a first class postage stamp was 4 cents, a cup of coffee was about 15 cents, and a movie ticket was 75 cents. Now, in the year that he is retiring, a stamp will cost you 49 cents, a cup of fancy coffee can be north of $3 and a movie ticket is at least $7.50. But he's never raised his price.

"All kinds of people come here, from the very, very wealthy to the poor," Pastore said. "It's not about the money; it's a nothing price. I don't sell anything. I cut hair very fast, people like it, that's all there is to it."

For more than a half century, from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, Pastore could be found in his shop chatting with customers, male and female, about the latest happenings in the village and the world, while shaping their manes into styles ranging from the Afro, the Mohawk, to one that was all the rage at one time -- the Dorothy Hamill Wedge -- and everything in between.

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"I don't have many tools," he said, pointing out two electric razors, one big, one small; a comb and a handheld mirror. "There are no hair products here," he said proudly.

Pastore said he and his wife, Patricia, used to vacation in Northport in the 1950s and that's how he came to the area. In 1962 he took over an existing barbershop and it became a hit for the price of the haircut, and for the good, friendly conversation that came along with it.

The shop, with no frills save for the warmth of Pastore's personality and his ease with patrons, is located in a 19th century house across from Village Hall. It is his second location in the village, after he was displaced when a building collapsed.

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The shop has only a single chair. Pastore tried unsuccessfully many years ago to bring on two other barbers, but "it didn't work, I was the one doing all the work."

Northport Mayor George Doll said he has been going to Oscar's for as long as he can remember.

"It's a landmark in the village. It's just a normal haircut, it's 15 minutes, $3.50 for the cut and $1.50 tip. Where else do you get that?" Doll said. "A lot of people are disappointed he is closing."

One of them is Don Zipfel, who Wednesday sat in the lone chair for the last time.

"He's a great guy," said Zipfel, who has been coming to Oscar's since 1977 and travels from Smithtown for the service and conversation. "I can park my car, get a haircut, have a nice conversation and be back in my car in 15 minutes. I hate to see him go."

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Doll said Oscar's closing is about more than the shuttering of a business on Main Street.

"It's a place you can go in and find out what's going on in the village," he said. "The vacancy is not the store or the space, it's more sentimental than that."

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