Barbershop offers stylish cuts at affordable prices

Jessica Remo

Forget everything you think you know about the Campus Barber Shop, unless, of course, you’re one of Vince Donia’s regular customers. The 29-year-old is the single man behind the operation now. Since his cutting partner, Tony DiReno, left in December to work at his own salon, and Donia is moving full steam ahead.

“In the nine years I’ve been cutting, I’ve never had someone who disliked their hair,” Donia said.

Bad cuts are perhaps the biggest myth surrounding the campus barbershop. Despite the horror stories that one may have heard, none of those hair catastrophes can be attributed to Donia. In fact, Donia, who has been was cutting solo these days, is a favorite among students. One student excitedly said, “Now I don’t have to get up at 8 a.m. to make sure that he’s the one who cuts it.”

And Donio’s no hack. He received his training at TriCity Barber School, in Philadelphia, learning primarily on African-American hair. He’s spent the last five of his nine years of cutting at Villanova, where he seems to have established a high-volume clientele.

“I can remember your haircut and where your cowlicks are, but not names,” Donia admitted.

In a matter of minutes, the barber shop can go from having only a few customers to having a line out the door. Business has been a little hectic since DiReno left, and Donia is planning to hire a new partner.

In addition to great cuts, the shop itself also has a unique allure. It’s an awkward juxtaposition of old school and new school. There are old-fashioned barber chairs, cabinetry and floor circa 1954 (a black and white photo on the windowsill depicts the shop from yesteryear), combined with the 20-something barber, designer hair products, Bravo on the TV in the background and a wall-length mounted art photo from IKEA. It exudes the look of a place undergoing its own makeover.

The aesthetics and Donia’s subtle humor and approachable nature give the shop the right atmosphere.

“Anyone like sushi?” Donia asked, motioning to the Philly Rolls behind him. “I’m not gonna finish it; it’s just gonna go bad.”

He gets a taker from the waiting room and then proceeds to bet the kid as to whether he can eat them all in under a minute. Later, Donia reminisces with an old customer about the time he pretended he was drunk on the job.

“He asked me how I was, and I smiled and said, ‘Great, I’ve been drinking since 6 a.m.’ Then he asked if he should leave,” Donia laughed.

In fact, it’s probably the jokes that led him to cutting hair.

“My old barber was really busy one day, and I jokingly asked if he wanted me to cut some hair. Then he told me that if I went to school, he’d have a job waiting for me, so I did.”

Jokes aside, Donia takes his job very seriously. “If I do a poor job then my customer will tell his friend. It’s a small community.”

Word of mouth is the shops primary means of recruiting new customers, and Donia sees everyone from ROTC kids to Augustinians, and every now and then he’ll even have a female customer.

“We see maybe five girls for every 1,000 guys,” Donia said, who also cuts his girlfriend Molly’s hair. In a photo on the windowsill, she sports a short do that she saw on a girl in the city and asked Donia to cut for her.

But the male-dominated atmosphere seems to aid the barber-customer relationship. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” one student said.

“Guys can come in and chat with a barber their age about school, work, girls, parties, and their plans for the weekend,” another frequent customer added.

So whether you’re a ‘three on the sides, spike the front” kind of guy or you want the hottest new celebrity cut, don’t be afraid to give Donia a try. At the very least, you’ll be entertained.