‘It’s bittersweet’: Beloved Brighton Beach barber shop to close after 55 years

A cut above the rest: Brighton Beach barber, Jack Skolnick, will be closing his barber shop on Saturday after 55 years of business.
Photo by Erica Price

It’s the end of an hair-a!

The king of Brighton Beach hair cuts is hanging up his shears on Saturday after more than 50 years.

Jack Skolnick, 76, first opened his aptly named “Jack’s Barber Shop” on Brighton 13th Street in 1964, and he still retains many of his earliest clients. In fact, some of Skolnick’s most loyal customers have been visiting him since he worked at his first barbershop as a teenager.

“I cut [Nathan’s] hair since he was 10 years old,” Jack said about one of his clients, who’s sought out Skolnick for his cuts since before he opened his shop. “He used to come here and we used to trade comic books. He still comes in.”

Now in its third location on Brighton Beach Avenue between Brighton 14th and 15th streets, Jack’s Barber Shop continues to dole out reliable, affordable hair cuts while adapting to changing hairstyles. In its 50 years, the shop has mastered every trend, from mop tops to mullets to the buzzcuts of today.

Skolnick’s barber shop’s largest contribution was its impact on the community. Since its founding, Jack’s has become a local meeting place, where neighbors and old friends would gossip and talk about sports.

“We spoke a lot about the community,” said Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay), who has visited Jack regularly since the 1980s. “I knew about his life and his family.”

“I think it’s going to be very difficult to find [another barber] who I can trust,” Cymbrowitz added.

Shear pleasure: Jack Skolnic has had a knack for barbering since he was 17 years old, and has cut the hair of local politicians, like Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay).
Photo by Erica Price

Skolnick’s Brighton Beach hair roots grow deep. A neighborhood native, Jack quickly developed a knack for cutting hair in his teenage years, and obtained his barbering apprentice license at age 17.

“I couldn’t sing or dance, so I became a barber,” he said.

After a two-year military stint in Louisiana during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Jack returned home and earned his master barber license in 1960, four years before opening his shop. Jack has worked relentlessly ever since, taking off a week or two every summer. Still, his upcoming retirement is not an easy pill for him to swallow.

“It’s bittersweet,” Jack said about the shop’s closing. “I’ve met a lot of nice people and I’m going to miss them.”

Jack hopes to spend more time with his wife, Linda, his two daughters, and his three granddaughters in his retirement. He also plans to take classes in art — an interest he has never been able to explore.

Brighton Beach residents prepared for the shop’s closing during the week, as regulars sat in the shop’s original 1960s chairs for their last trims, and barbering mirrors were laid in front of the shop for sale. Propped on a ledge stood a sign that once hung in the window: “Enter as strangers, leave as friends,” it read.

“I met a lot of nice people in all these years and I appreciate their business,” said Skolnick. “I hope it was of value to them.”

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306.
Sadness in the hair: Jack Skolnick will retire after over fifty years of barbering, and hopes to spend his new-found free time with his family.
Photo by Erica Price

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