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Longtime barber shop part of West Chester community’s fabric

A barber shop with several decades of service strives to make West Chester look good.

Hair Care Barber Salon at 7750 West Chester Road started out in 1964 as Renner’s Barber Shop, when the Pisgah neighborhood and much of what was then Union Twp. was farmland, and cows pastured on the property next door.

Ray Nelson starting working there in 1968, two weeks after finishing a two-year tour of duty in the Army. He bought the business from Bill Renner in 1976, brought his son Scott on board in 1994 and sold it to him 10 years ago.

Scott Nelson said he’s loved watching the community change and customers grow from children to parents and grandparents.

“They come in in diapers and the next thing you know they’re getting married and moving off somewhere,” Nelson said. “It’s crazy.”

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At one point father and son worked there along Scott Nelson’s mother, Linda, who cut hair there for 10 years. Now employees Craig Tomlinson and Mike Palmerton take care of customers.

Don Cundy, of Lebanon, a decades-long customer, said the business has weathered the years and become part of the community’s fabric because it offers a “friendly, family-oriented” vibe, one that he recently introduced to 10-year-old grandson Burke.

“Scott takes after his dad,” Cundy said. “You get the same great haircut all the time and Scott is always really (upbeat). Other places will just cut your hair and say ‘Bye.’ Scott will always spend time talking to you.”

Conversations with customers are always varied and rarely boring.

“It can be a lot like a bar,” Nelson said. “Politics, sports, local stuff going on. It can get pretty entertaining some days.”

Demographics for the business range from toddlers to men and women in their late 80s and includes people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

”We’re a pretty diverse shop,” Nelson said.

Hairstyles have changed over the years, as has the cost, going from $1.25 in the 1960s to $14 these days, but the basic services haven’t. Hair Care Barber Salon offers basic haircuts, flat tops, a dollop of pomade to sculpt one’s hair into a pompadour and even straight-razor shaves.

“A lot of places around here, they won’t touch straight razors,” Nelson said. “We shave faces, we shave heads. We do a lot of the traditional stuff and a lot of the modern stuff, too. You’ve got to be able to do a little bit of all of it.”

Nelson said many modern-day barbers likely avoid straight razor shaves because they lack the expertise involved and are not willing to take the half hour or so it takes to do it right.

“It’s sort of like when women go to get their fingernails and toenails done. It’s an experience and it should be the same thing when you come to get your face shaved,” he said. “You shouldn’t have it done in 30 seconds.”

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