By Joanne McDonald
One haircut at a time, Domenic Barbatano has been taking good care of the people in Beamsville, inside and out, for almost half a century.
The well loved barber retired Saturday, April 27, his final day of business.
The news has travelled fast and the reaction from the community has been emotional.
Three generations, fathers who have brought their sons and now their grandchildren, many who had their first ‘big boy’ haircuts in Domenic’s swivel chair, feel like they are losing a good friend.
Domenic’s Barber Shop & Hair Styling has been one of Beamsville’s finest civic forums, a trusted place where confidences were safely shared – a place to just talk – families, sports, politics and news of the Town mixed with the familiar smells of fresh lather, tonics and soap.
“It has been very emotional for him,” said Domenic’s wife Aida.
“He can’t believe how people are reacting to the news.”
Their three daughters, Rosey, Angela and Gabriella opened the shop with their dad Saturday morning. It was one tough day. There’s now a big empty space in the heart of Beamsville.
“I came from Italy in 1968 and worked in Niagara Falls before moving to Beamsville,” Domenic said.
Engaged at the time, he returned to Italy in 1970 to marry his sweetheart Aida. He brought her to Canada and they built a rich life together, working hard and raising three beautiful daughters.
“The Town was very small then,” Domenic said. “The Town has been very good to me.”
Hairstyles changed over the years, but Barbatano’s unwavering kind and gentle personality remains the same.
The McDonald family remembers the kindness and patience he showed especially to the youngest of their four boys who has special needs.
Domenic had a natural touch that kept the busy little guy in the chair at least for a few swipes of the scissors. He never charged for a single haircut until the little boy was six and learned to sit for the entire cut.
“Always that same smile, that pleasantness, so unassuming, just a wonderful man,” said Ken Frid. “He’s my Christian brother.” Frid has been driving from Grimsby for the past 25 years for a haircut.
Forty-eight years barbering in Beamsville, a couple of years in Niagara Falls and about 10 years in Italy before moving to Canada – 60 years is one successful career and Domenic is going to miss early mornings opening the shop. But he will have more time to spend with his five grandchildren.
“All my customers have become family to me,” Domenic said. “I will miss the friendships.”
“I would like to thank all my customers for their loyalty throughout the years. I will miss you all very much.”
The coffee was on Saturday, thanks to Tim Hortons Beamsville, which donated coffee and Timbits for the day – a move very much appreciated by Domenic.