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DEGRA’S Barber Shop a Throwback to Simpler Era

The atmosphere at this West Hartford business is reminiscent of an old-fashioned barber shop, and so is the price of a haircut at the Park Road salon.

Do you remember when a haircut cost $18? That is still what DEGRA’S Barber Shop on Park Road in West Hartford charges.

Men, women and children – everyone pays that same price for a regular haircut – except seniors who pay $16.

With exposed brick walls displaying memorabilia like old Marilyn Monroe posters and vintage barbershop signs, DEGRA’S is a throwback to a different and simpler era. Longtime barbers who’ve worked at DEGRA’S for decades decorate their mirrors with pictures from the 1970s – a time when they had bushy Afros and rock-and-roll was the rage.

John Molumphy has been a hairstylist at DEGRA’S since the mid-1970s. He has cut Lee Rosa’s hair since Rosa was a kid growing up in Hartford. Rosa now lives in Bristol, but brings his two-year-old son, Anthony, to DEGRA'S.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Anthony sits calmly as Danny Maglieri cuts his blonde locks. Asked what the secret is to keeping a two-year-old happy in the chair, the stylist replied, “We feed them lollipops.” But brightly colored, old-fashioned car chairs also do the trick.

Brian Taylor, of West Hartford, has also been coming to DEGRA’S since he was young. He talked to a reporter from Patch as Mike Delude cut his hair – as he has for decades. “Loyalty is everything,” noted Delude.

DEGRA’S owner, Richard DeGrandis, has operated the full-service unisex hair salon since 1968, in an old, rustic building which was formerly Al’s barber shop on one side and F&D package store on the other.

DeGrandis bought the building and, for a time, operated both businesses. He eventually combined the space into one large shop. In the busy period of the 1970s and 80s, DeGrandis employed 17 stylists and walk-in customers had long waits.

Today, it’s still a very busy place, but now there are seven stylists and there’s a lot more competition in town – including on Park Road.

But the neighborhood barber shop still draws the faithful. DeGrandis loves his customers, said longtime stylist Jennifer Dubois.

Each spring, he grows peppers and tomatoes in the sunny back porch of the salon with seeds he gets from Italy. He parcels out the vegetables to his longtime clients. Every Saturday, he offers free donuts, and bagels and cream cheese. On Thursday nights, when DEGRA’S stays open until 8 p.m., wine and beer is served.

The barber shop draws an equal number of men, women, and children, said DeGrandis. Services such as hair coloring and highlighting are also available.

At age 72, DeGrandis said he has no plans to retire soon – though he’s been cutting hair since 1961, when he first started working at Nardi’s on Oakwood and Park Roads.

“Our shop isn’t breaking any records, but we’re holding our own,” said the longtime West Hartford resident.

DEGRA’S is located at 265 Park Road in West Hartford. The shop is closed on Sunday and Monday. No appointment needed. For more information, call (860) 233-2824 or visit www.degras.net.

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