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Barber sets up shop on Bell Boulevard

Reynold Lewis (l.) goes under the knife as barber Garry Kalontarov plies his straight razor to the Bayside resident's beard. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

A new barbershop on Bell Boulevard aims to keep the men in and around Bayside looking sharp.

J&J Barbershop, at 38-33 Bell Blvd., opened about three months ago and offers a place where men can stop in to get a trim and a shave and to talk shop.

“A barbershop is just for men,” said owner Garry Kalontarov. “It’s about giving a good hair cut and also making the customer feel like they are at home.”

Kalontarov has the cutting part down pat. He has been in the business for 11 years and already has a loyal following in the area.

“I have the guys who come in once a week, some that come in every two weeks,” he said.

And in a business where hair can be trimmed down to the millimeter, there is little room for mistakes.

Kalontarov performs fades and shape-ups, sometimes blending longer locks on top down to the scalp around the ears.

It took a lot of practice in his formative days, according to the Forest Hills native, but this barber has a steady hand.

On a recent Thursday, Kalontarov was wielding the most recognizable tool of his trade, the straight razor, as he trimmed the beard of Reynold Lewis.

The Bayside resident wanted his beard trimmed and the edges sharpened, which Kalontarov performed with a discerning eye for symmetry. But J&J Barbershop also gives customers a free hot shave with every haircut, a storied tradition in the field that certainly beats doing it yourself at home.

“You get the hot towel, it’s relaxing,” Kalontarov said.

And according to Kalontarov’s brother-in-law, who was hanging out at the shop sporting a J&J Barbershop T-shirt, the hair-cutting venue is more than just a place for grooming.

“It’s like a bar,” said Danny Chico. “They want to talk to somebody so they come in.”

Barbershops double as debate clubs, where men come to discuss sports or politics, Chico said.

Kalontarov also had television installed in front of every seat to make his patrons comfortable.

A personable atmosphere and cutting hair well are the main drivers of business, according to Kalontarov, who is not alone in opening a hair grooming center.

Barbershops and hair salons around the nation are thriving, according to a CNN report, which suggested the industry is extremely resilient to recessions, since people always need to get their hair cut, and the job cannot be outsourced.

Between 2007 and 2009, the number of barbershops across the country grew by 18.6 percent, according to CNN.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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