After 24 years next to P&G’s, Ricci’s Barbershop has now been relocated to bigger digs slightly more downtown, in part of what was once Oasis Cafe in New Paltz. The move was necessary to allow for an expansion of the kitchen at P&G’s, but Cindy Ricci’s former landlord, Mike Beck, remains on good terms with her, and has already stopped by for a trim.
What Beck and other customers will find upon visiting the new Ricci’s is that the proprietor is a natural designer. Aiming to strike a balance between “manly and classy,” the shop is appointed with hundreds of little details around the theme of cars and motorcycles. The shelves are made from repurposed tires, the waiting-area table is mounted on a tire rim and topped with suspension springs turned into magazine racks, the vanities used by the barbers to store their gear are tool boxes, and the fourth cutting station features a race-car seat for youngsters which will soon be joined by another one which will allow them to sit on a motorcycle while the scissors snip away. Licenses and price lists will be framed in old wrenches. Soon the flat-screen television will bring the latest sports, and all day long “we rock out to WPDH,” which is the customers’ favorite radio station, Ricci said.
On one wall, up near the vaulted ceiling, is a large portrait of Ricci and her late chihuahua Bellelee, pictured with the pink motorcycle on which they rode some 90,000 miles together. Ricci hasn’t been riding as much recently because she’s been remodeling the space without professional help and because she suffers from chronic Lyme disease which has at times kept her off the bike entirely. Her new dog, Sharilee, took some time to get used to the new shop, but is now quite at home sitting on a comfy bed near Ricci’s station or on the desk in her office.
“We never had an office before,” Ricci said; the old shop wasn’t much larger than her office now is, and didn’t even have a bathroom. Now she has both, and when she’s behind closed doors she can monitor the comings and goings via the video feed to her phone.
Making the move took eight days, but ahead of that was a lot of prep work. “Most of what we had at the old shop was built in,” Ricci explained, and thus new fixtures were needed for the new shop. The existing cement required new flooring above to make working on one’s feet possible, and a long line of barber poles leading to the fenced-in porch area were among the first details she addressed. Once the weather warms up, she plans on making that space available for children by putting in gates; haircuts will also take place outside on nice days. There’s also plans to put out log benches this summer to make the porch more of a gathering place.
That she managed all that while having back surgery to root out a stubborn infection speaks to her tenacity as well as how well she’s regarded in the community. Family, friends and members of the Bruderhof community helped with the painting, the moving and ensuring the reopening would happen quickly. “Knowing I have chronic Lyme, a lot of people figured I was done” when it became necessary to move, she said, but Ricci isn’t ready to put down her scissors just yet. “I don’t give up that easy,” she said. “It’s not an option, I’ve come this far.”
January is always a slow month, both because of pre-holiday haircuts and the college being closed, but she’s been heavily promoting the new location via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She’s also gotten permission to post directional signs on nearby buildings to help people find the place. The directions she gives: turn between Starbucks and Chase onto Plattekill Avenue, drive into the municipal lot and all the way to the back, then look for those barber poles.
The lot where the new Ricci’s is located has long been where local drivers seek free parking adjacent to that municipal lot, where parking fees were imposed during the Dungan administration. That worked fine when the primary business was a night club, but with a daytime business there the situation is now going to change. Ricci warned that building owner Bobby Downs is prepared to have cars towed when drivers aren’t patrons of the barbershop or tattoo studio; that’s a $250 fee to recover the vehicle. Ricci has no desire to see anyone’s car get towed, and has been warning folks when she can about the coming changes.
While the location is different, the same friendly atmosphere exists inside, and the same skilled barbers are ready to take on whatever hairy problems come their way. Just follow the barber poles to the back of the lot.