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EMILY GONCE, HOBOKEN MAN

concrete slabs are paneled in dark wood with high gloss and stainless steel accents. In the lobby, designed to mimic a bar, stools are upholstered with alligator leather fastened with bronze studs. Playboy covers from Marilyn to Marge are on display, and flat-screen TVs are mounted in nearly every corner. About the only features reminiscent of an old barbershop are the 10 vintage Belmont barber chairs with smooth tan leather and metal frames. Like its design, Hoboken Man’s services blend traditional and modern, from the straight-razor shave to the mani-pedi combo. “We wanted to take it to the next level,” says Gonce, a petite blonde who works as a lobbyist for a big insurance company by day and visits the shop by night. “Most everything that we do isn’t done in an ordinary fashion. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to be the best.” Gino’s Barber Shop, in a four-story residential building with brick and blue siding, had four owners before 1945, when Gino Leone, an immigrant from the Italian coastal city of Molfetta, purchased it for $700. Leone learned the trade as a boy, when his father, a fisherman, sent him to be a barber’s apprentice to help support the family. In 1938, Leone came to Hoboken and worked at a barbershop on River Street until he saved enough money to open his own place. He met an Italian girl, born and raised in Hoboken, and the two started a family. The oldest of their three sons, Nick, began his informal training as a barber at 10 and eventually cut hair alongside his father. At the time, most shops were run by Italians. Some older places were owned by Germans, and by the mid ’60s, a handful of Cubans had also set up businesses. It was then that men began to grow their hair, and the industry declined. “Business got very slow,” says Nick Leone, who has white hair and works in faded jeans and loafers. “I didn’t lose any customers. I just lost the

palisade • hoboken & beyond

SUMMER 2010

33

PALISADE MAGAZINE  

SUMMER 2010

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