Customers say the owner of the Orange barber shop is a pro at the shears; it’s like ‘spending time with a friend’

ORANGE – The owner of the city’s newest barber shop is the first to admit, “I’m a barber who doesn’t look like a barber,” as his meticulously cut locks go down to his shoulders.

But customers say he can do wonders with his scissors, clippers, shaves, and he’s old school everywhere.

In addition to haircuts, Conklin, 36, offers beard cuts and straight shaves with hot towels, an art that seems to be disappearing.

“I’ve always wanted a place where all generations come in. Grandpa, father and son,” he said. “I didn’t want to limit myself to just one type of hairstyle, the hairstyle.”

He also enjoys chatting about sports, news, events in town – and especially the older guys from school, “because they have a lot of cool life stories to tell you.”

He grew up in Orange and opened Matt’s Barber Shop, 288 Boston Post Road, right next to Knight’s Inc. at the end of June after 15 years in the business working for someone else.

Conklin operates in a small, immaculate 375 square foot refurbished space with relaxing earth tone walls and strives to be “a local neighborhood barbershop,” in the hopes, he said, of barbers of all ages because he has the skills. He has three barber chairs in hopes of adding staff down the line.

He was hired at Hero Barbershop in Newtown after graduating from hairdressing school, connected to the business and stayed until his own store opened, saying he learned a lot during his time there.

Conklin’s hair had always been short, but a few years ago colleagues held a competition to see who could be the longest without cutting their hair. Conklin liked long hair and, “Then I met my girlfriend when I had long hair and thought she might not like me if I cut it.”

She is still his girlfriend and helped design the store.

People comment on the irony of her long hair all the time and “I’m kidding a little,” he said.

Longtime client Spencer Palmer said Conklin was the only person he trusted to cut his hair.

“He does a great job and I always leave the chair feeling like I have the best hairstyle possible,” Palmer said.

“I have been going to see him for over 7 years and during that time I have received many compliments on my hair. People always ask me where I got my hair cut, ”Palmer said. “It’s also very easy to talk to Matt and I feel like I’m spending time with a friend rather than having my hair cut.”

Andrew Anziano, a close friend and client of Conklin, who was due to have his hair cut and a hot towel shave recently, has been a client for years, but would have been sooner had he not felt loyalty to another barber who has since changed careers. Conklin encouraged his friend to keep that connection even though it was one less customer for himself.

Anziano said he liked the fact that Conklin “does a lot of mixing with scissors,” while many other barbers stick with “buzzers”.

He also likes a close shave, saying, “It’s a nice feeling – sometimes you have to be pampered.”

He said Conklin “takes his time” and that they also like to talk about the Giants and the Yankees.

Anziano also loves Conklin’s long hair.

“I’ve always said, ‘Don’t trust a skinny chef or a bald barber,’ Anziano said.

Although Conklin admits, “I’ve been cutting my hair myself and calling friends in the backyard for years,” he never wanted to be a hairdresser or stylist. He was just trying to save his parents money by doing his own hair all these years for the price of $ 30 clippers.

He graduated from Amity Regional High School and wanted to be a zookeeper or marine biologist because he loves animals, but things change at this age. He didn’t finish college, worked with people with disabilities for a few years, then heard about barbering school – it piqued his interest.

The soft-spoken Conklin hasn’t missed a beat in the profession since, keeping up with all the latest styles and even teaching others.

He was planning on opening a boutique after school, but stayed with Hero, then decided to take the plunge when they changed their business model to have stylists rent chairs.

“So I thought if I was to have the responsibilities of my own business, I should just have my own business,” he said. Conklin said his parents gladly gave him a loan to open.

“I love it,” he said of the company. “Every week it seems to be getting a little better.”

He only offers one line of hair products: Johnny Slicks, an all-natural shampoo, conditioner and styling substance, claiming he chose the line in part because it belongs to a veteran and is an American company that manufactures everything in small batches.

Matt’s Barber Shop is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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