Bob Olivieri and Chuck Dimattia have been in business together at Gentleman’s Touch barbershop for 54 years. Over the years, they have become a staple in the community.
“We have gotten to see families grow,” Renee Emmons, Olivieri’s daughter and stylist at the salon, said. “We have seen generations of family come through here.”
The shop, 2851 Holme Ave., opened in April 1967. Both men are now in their 70s but have no trouble standing on their feet all day five days a week. According to Olivieri, they have never once had an argument.
“They’ve lasted longer than most marriages,” Emmons said.
Olivieri, a graduate of North Catholic, opened the shop when he got out of barber school and Dimattia joined him a few months later. He has five children and currently lives in South Philly with his wife Maryanne. The rest is history and a strong one at that.
Olivieri keeps active in his spare time by taking trips to the beach and working on his vegetable garden. His secret to being able to thrive over the years is: “Don’t stop moving,” Olivieri said. “That’s when they start throwing dirt on you.”
“Customers who have moved away come back to visit when they’re in town,” Olivieri said. Emmons spoke of a customer who comes back to Philadelphia from Hawaii and visits the shop every time they’re in town.
Gentleman’s Touch was not immune to the hardships that small businesses faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were closed for three and a half months,” Olivieri said. “It hurt us, but not so bad we couldn’t recover.”
Olivieri shared that his customers offered to help him financially during the pandemic, but he refused.
“It just wouldn’t be right,” Olivieri said.
One customer wrote a heartfelt letter thanking Bob, Chuck and Renee on behalf of his father who had passed away.
“Please don’t ever change how you go about your business,” the letter wrote. “It’s a special thing and unfortunately less and less common in the world.”