After being closed for more than a year, a new barber's pole has been installed and the 'open' sign is once again illuminated at Big Guns Barbershop.
The East Street shop closed last year at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and owner P.J. D'Agostino kept it that way out of concern for the health and safety of their clients and themself.
D'Agostino told SooToday in June of last year that the decision to keep the shop shuttered was difficult, but necessary due to a number of preexisting health concerns.
As a one-person operation, they didn't feel they had a choice.
“It is me saying that my personal health is more important than my clients getting a haircut. That’s a very hard thing to say. I don’t take it lightly, it is terrible – but at this time, I am immunocompromised because I do have several health conditions,” D’Agostino said at the time. “Basically, if I were to get coronavirus, it would kill me.”
Now, there's a new masked face at Big Guns and a slightly different business model in place, as Courtney Larocque takes over barbering duties.
"It's amazing. I'm so fortunate to be working with P.J. She is, in my opinion, one of the best barbers in the city. Her work is phenomenal," Larocque said of the opportunity.
"I'm trying to reengineer the barbershop experience," D’Agostino said. "There's still going to be jazz music playing, there's still going to be this classic environment. What's changing is, I actually have a new chair renter."
D’Agostino will continue to run the barbershop, answering calls and booking appointments. But they felt the need to step back from the pre-pandemic exhausting work week.
"I want to be able to serve this community for a long time," they explained. "The way I was working before – 60-hour weeks – was unsustainable."
"There will be no more booking 20 to 30 haircuts a day. What I can offer is a more intimate barbershop experience."
"When you come in for an appointment, you can be sure that you're not coming into a public space. You can be sure that you and your barber will be the only people in the building at the time of your cut. I think that's very important for keeping our services safe and clean and healthy as possible."
In order to make Big Guns Barbershop a bit more accessible, D’Agostino also introduced a 'pay-what-you-can' payment system.
"What we're hoping is that people who can pay it forward, will. And the people who can't will get the services they so much deserve."
Big Guns Barbershop can be reached at 705-450-6099 or follow them on Facebook for updates and information.