Barbers include Vince Pecchia, who has been clipping hair for 70 years
 
 
 

He takes his time, treating each customer like they’re special. When he’s finished with the hair, he lathers up the back of your neck and shaves away any unsightly scruff. Then he’ll dip into a bowl filled with brushes and combs to arrange your hair just so.

For some reason, many old-school Vancouver barbershops feature barbers of a single ethnic background. For years, I got my haircuts from the Greeks at Thurlow and Robson. When the building was torn down, I switched to the Italians at Nanaimo and Hastings.

Sorrento Barbers is as much a community centre as a place for a haircut. People constantly drop by to shoot the breeze with the barbers, usually in Italian.

“We talk about the weather, the sports,” said customer Sante Del Vecchio, 74.

“The betting, losing money, and the 6/49 (that) doesn’t come up. We don’t talk women. We’re too old for that.”

When the barbers talk English, it’s with a thick accent, like-a this-a. The thickest belongs to Vincenzo Pecchia, who may be Vancouver’s oldest barber.

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“I started cutting in 1945,” he said. “I’ll be 84 September the three.”

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Vince cuts hair like a surgeon. He has a bowl full of scissors he’s accumulated over the years, which he dips into for different parts of the head. One pair comes out for trimming sideburns, another when he’s clipping the hair inside your ear.

He takes his time, treating each customer like they’re special. When he’s finished with the hair, he lathers up the back of your neck and shaves away any unsightly scruff. Then he’ll dip into a bowl filled with brushes and combs to arrange your hair just so.

Vince doesn’t like to get caught in traffic. So four days a week he wakes up early to drive 20 kilometres from his home in Surrey to open up the shop.

“Six, 6:30 I’m here every morning,” he relates.

“The shop opens at seven. Many times I get old customers, (at) 6:30 they are here waiting for me. This morning there was three guys waiting here.”

When he says old customers, he means old customers. Vince has been cutting hair on Hastings Street since 1958.

“Since I work, I never stop one day,” Vince states. “Never been sick. Never been in jail.”

“That’s (bleep), because you’ve been in jail in here!” laughs his fellow barber, Massimo Tinaburri.

“If you was in jail, you’d be out in 25 years. Now it’s been 50, 60 years, you’re still in jail!”

But Vince loves the job. So does Tinaburri, who everybody calls Mino. The 67-year-old tried to retire last year, but now he’s back in the shop, working three days a week.

“You gotta have some time to yourself, you can’t be always working,” Mino reasons.

“But at the same time I feel bad to leave; I’ve been serving the customers for 50 years now.”

Vince and Mino come from Molise, a region in central Italy. Vince was born in Campodimele, a mountain town that is renowned for the longevity of its residents, who live to an average age of 95.

He started cutting hair when he was 14.

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