Astor Place Hair in East Village closing after 75 years due to the pandemic

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Monday, October 26, 2020
Iconic barbershop closing after 75 years due to pandemic
Kemberly Richardson reports on the barbershop in the East Village.

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A longtime barbershop in the East Village is closing because of the pandemic.

Astor Place Hairstylists says it has been impossible to turn a profit, even since reopening in June.

The shop has weathered tough times before during its nearly 75-year history, but with added expenses and fewer customers, the plan now is to shut down before Thanksgiving.

Despite putting COVID-19 safeguards in place when they reopened over the summer, business is down nearly 90% and they can't keep up with the rent.

"We tried to make a go of it," owner Paul Vezza said. "We need more than this to cover the expenses and the money. It flows out like water."

Vezza was able to keep the barbershop open after 9/11 and the financial crash, but COVID seems to have taken too much of a toll.

"We tried and tried and plugged away, we're fighters, we're not just gong to go down without a fight," he said.

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His grandfather first opened the shop in the 1940s and ran the store with his dad.

The barbershop has always been the place to go and stylist Valentino Gogu has worked seven days a week and cut Robert de Niro's hair and rubbed elbows with the mayor, who is a regular customer.

"People stood in line outside, nobody could get in, there was no room, no AC, people would bring soda and a sandwich because it was nonstop, 8-8 nonstop," he said.

In the chair you might find everyone from hip hop royalty like LL Cool J to actors and artists like Keith Haring who would give them his sketches.

"The celebrities, it was nice when they'd come, but we made our bread and butter off the working man," Vezza said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up not to help save the business, but rather to aid the hair stylists that will be out of work.

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A New York bookstore has survived the Great Depression and two World Wars, but are now in danger of going out of business due to the pandemic.


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