Bringing Back Barbering in Scranton

SCRANTON -- An old profession is seeing a resurgence in Scranton. A barber school relocated to the city this year and has seen a lot of growth.

Michael Caporali has been a barber for 55 years. His new Scranton storefront is his favorite so far.

"Really, really, doubled my business since I came down here," he said.

In all that time, Caporali has seen styles come and go. He's starting to see trends he saw when his career started.

"That was back in the 50s and 60s when I was doing it, now, flattops. I'm getting a lot of them. They want flattops!" Caporali said.

He's following those trends and now trying to start another one. He teaches barbers at the Barber School of NEPA on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton. Caporali says when he started there were more than 1,000 barber shops in Lackawanna County. Now there are just 43.

"My cousins were all barbers and tailors. That's what we are. I said I can't let this die, so when I retired, I didn't. I want to make barbers."

Since moving to Scranton from Carbondale, Caporali says he has a waiting list for students and will start a night class in the fall.

Some students have already attended cosmetology school.

"I really attended there to be a barber, so there was no barber school at that time. I heard about this one and I'm here," said Bri Shoulars of Scranton.

Others come looking for a career change.

"There was a slowdown with the gas company. I was laid off and decided I really, really wanted to be a barber," said Dan Jones of Factoryville.

The school enrolls men and women alike, but these future barbers agree that one of the reasons why the art of barbering is coming back is because the male camaraderie of a barber shop is just as strong as it always was.

"I do think it's coming back and that's part of the reason," said Jones.  "I think that men want to look good but also want to be manly about it."

The barber school's first class of new barbers will be ready this December.