In Southbury: Heritage Village Barber Shop Owner Grateful for Loyal Customers

Mary Semplenski (left) is celebrating 35 years as owner of the Heritage Village Barber Shop, 519 Heritage Rd., with her daughter-in-law and stylist Melissa Semplenski.

SOUTHBURY — Since Mary Semplenski took over the reins 35 years ago, many stories have been shared in the Heritage Village Barber Shop, 519 Heritage Rd. She told Voices, “We all have stories to share. My clients have watched me grow through the years, while I raised my kids, and I learned about them.” Although the business name conjures up images of a male-dominated space, the shop offers hair care services to women and children, too.

“This is a family place,” Ms. Semplenski explained. “I worked for the previous owner for three years before taking over and decided to keep the name as it was so well known in the area. 

“But, over time, wives and the rest of the family liked what we were doing for their husbands, fathers, and brothers and trusted us to do their cuts, colors, blow outs, and perms.”

Almost seven years ago, her daughter-in-law, Melissa Semplenski began to work as a stylist at Heritage Village Barber Shop, enhancing the family atmosphere.

“We make a great team and the customers love her. Melissa is attracting a lot of the younger generation to her chair and that’s nice to see. She’s very good with the kids.

Ms. Semplenski’s official anniversary date as owner is June 1, a date that was renewed as a fresh start when it also became the date she reopened the shop after three months in response to the pandemic.

“Covid-19 turned the business upside down. I’m grateful to my loyal customers who returned but there are some who are still worried about visiting.”

She understands. “We’re all scared. People like me who have spent our lives building small businesses need support now, more than ever. But I believe it’ll be okay and we’ll get through this, together.”

She’s grateful to her clients for their business. “When we reopened, people were so happy to be here and very generous. We couldn’t hug but there was a feeling that we welcomed each other with open arms. Honestly, it was overwhelming.”

Per state guidelines, Ms. Semplenski registered her business to ensure that she was following the right procedures to keep everyone safe, including sanitation procedures and a Barbicide certification.

“No one waits for a cut anymore. I work by appointments only and temperatures are taken at the door. There are just the two chairs in the whole place with a wall between them. 

“We disinfect the spaces and all scissors after each visit and wear masks and aprons. I want to make sure my clients are healthy. And I want to make sure we stay healthy, too, because Melissa has given me three beautiful grandchildren.”

She noted, “After this is all behind us, I may stick to appointments only and avoid walk-ins because clients like the idea of me taking care of them as soon as they walk in. We’re handicapped accessible so there’s no problem if someone wants to roll in or needs to use a cane.”

A majority of her customers are Heritage Village residents but word of mouth spread over the years to include customers from a wide area.

Addressing her anniversary, Ms. Semplenski said, “I live two minutes from the shop and, every day I drive into Heritage Village, I feel happy. It’s good to be in a place where customers appreciate you. The first few weeks at home were good but, after the first month, I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get back to work.”

She added, “I know it will take time to rebuild and someday I’ll have to give this up but I’m happy to know that Melissa will take it over. She’s a sweetie pie and I’m blessed to have her in my life. She knows what to do and treats people so well. The customers love her.”

The Heritage Village Barber Shop is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Appointments may be made within those hours by calling 203-264-7175.

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