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Decades-Old Ninth Avenue Barbershop Finds New Home Nearby After Eviction

By Mathew Katz | November 20, 2012 7:25am

CHELSEA — The old barber's pole is still spinning — if only a few blocks away.

A decades-old Chelsea barbershop that just weeks ago faced closure after it was evicted from its Ninth Avenue home has found a new life nearby on West 18th Street.

The owners of New Barber Shop — which along with other businesses was forced out of its longtime home on Ninth Avenue, between West 17th and West 18th streets, earlier this year — picked up their barbers chairs, shears and straight razors and moved to a narrow basement space at 235 W. 18th St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

The shop has a new name, Willies Barber Shop, and its large, bright sign advertises "No Waiting" and affordable prices — $14 for a haircut ($12 for seniors).

"The old customers, they start to come by. The new ones see the barber's pole and come in," said William Narcado, who, with partner Manollo Castillo, had been cutting hair along Ninth Avenue for more than 25 years.

The old spinning peppermint pole outside the shop made the trip, along with much of the equipment from the original shop.

Castillo, however, did not.

"Manollo, he feels tired, especially after we fought for the old place," Narcado said, adding that Castillo may eventually return to work once or twice a week, but he doesn't expect that to happen for several months.

With a soundtrack of Christmas music, the old-style shop is still a place where barbers can chat in Italian with longtime regulars and take a break from the changes that came to the neighborhood in recent years, which both Manollo and Narcado blamed for their eviction.

In December 2011, their building was bought by Stonehenge Management, which hopes to turn what was once a handful of stores serving the Fulton Houses complex into a higher-end single retail space.

By the time the barbers left last month, they were paying about $3,000 a month in rent. Narcado's new location runs him $2,100, and he's signed a five-year lease.

"We found the place after a friend of mine saw the [for rent] sign," he said. "This place, the rent is more low, thank God. And the landlord is a good guy."

The shop had a small grand opening party on Saturday and has welcomed several new customers since then. As the business continues to grow, Narcado hopes to add three more chairs for some of his friends who still cut hair.

To make ends meet, he also may rent out a back room to a manicurist, bringing a female presence into a business that's been predominantly male-dominated.

"We have the space, so I may do it," he said. "I guess we have to change like everything around here."