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Business name: Village Barber Shop
Address: 6 Queen Street, Newtown
Owner: Lianette Marte
Business background: Village Barber Shop has been a staple in Newtown for more than 50 years. It was originally opened in 1957 by barber John Marino, just a few hundred feet from where it is located today in the Big Y plaza.
Beloved barber Marino “Joe” Pelino joined the shop in 1962 after years of cutting hair in Italy before coming to America. He served thousands of clients over his nearly 45-year career at Village Barber Shop. Upon his retirement in December 2007, he passed the business along to barber Shpendi “Frank” Ambari. Since Mr Ambari’s death in 2008, as well as Mr Pelino’s passing the following year, the shop has remained in town and has been owned by Mr Ambari’s wife, Karen.
The newest incarnation of Village Barber Shop took shape when Ms Ambari recruited her go-to hair stylist, Lianette Marte, for the shop.
“Frank’s wife has been a client of mine for five-plus years. She called me one day and asked if I would be interested in working at the barber shop,” Ms Marte said.
At the time, she was employed at a salon in Southbury but says she started spending her three days off each week working at Village Barber Shop.
Prior to joining the business, Ms Marte had received her education at Brio Academy of Cosmetology in Torrington. She went on to work a year and a half at Snip Snaps in the Meriden Mall — where she felt if she could master cutting children’s hair, then she could take on any adult client. She continued to hone her skills and spent five years at Cutting Crew in Naugatuck.
After four months of working in Newtown, Ms Marte got a call from Ms Ambari that could not have come at a better time.
“She called me one day and told me that she had an epiphany,” Ms Marte said. “I was at a really low point in my life, so it was definitely God [intervening].”
She recalls how Ms Ambari expressed to her that she wanted to sell Village Barber Shop to her, and that she believed Ms Marte was exactly what the place needed.
On March 1, Ms Marte officially became a business owner and took over Newtown’s Village Barber Shop. To show her deep respect for the legacy the two previous owners created, she commemorates Mr Pelino and Mr Ambari by displaying write-ups about them around the shop.
Business focus: Village Barber Shop specializes in haircuts for men and children, as well as hot-lather shaves, beard trims, brow waxing, facial waxing, men’s styling, and hair braiding.
“Women are always welcome,” Ms Marte says, but notes that her goal is to keep the barber shop’s atmosphere as is and not to turn it into a hair salon.
Important to know: “I know there have been a lot of changes, but I didn’t come into this if I didn’t believe that the shop tradition is something that should continue,” Ms Marte said.
She understands many longtime clients left after Mr Ambari’s and Mr Pelino’s deaths, but she hopes people will give her and her all female staff a chance to win them back.
As for those who have not been to Village Barber Shop before, she asks that people give them a shot to let them become their new favorite shop.
Hours: Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm; Saturday, from 8:30 am to 4 pm; closed Sunday.