MERIDEN — The vintage ads for Wildroot and $2 haircuts still hang on the walls, and the chairs are just the way Glenn Agnew left them.
Edward Pratt hasn’t changed much in the former Village Barber Shop, except the name. Pratt bought the popular barbershop in the heart of South Meriden several months after Agnew died of a heart attack in May. Agnew was 48 and a fixture in the local community.
”They are big shoes to fill,” Pratt said. “That was almost a reason I didn’t want to buy the barbershop. He was very well known all around. Platt (High School) dedicated its football season to him because his son Ian plays on the team. I just want to keep his legacy going.”
Pratt, of Southington, was first brought to Agnew’s barber chair at the age of 12. He remembers staring at Agnew’s tattoo of a set of clippers with a mad face and thinking how edgy it was.
Pratt eventually learned how to cut hair, and wanted someday to own a shop. He bought a business on West Main Street and more recently in Southington.
But he always stayed closed to Agnew. The two barbers would refer customers to each other when they took vacations.
“I had a tight-knit relationship with Glenn,” Pratt said. “I heard Glenn passed away, and asked about (the shop).”
Pratt met with landlord Ed Haberli, who found his personality fit the need for a small-town community barbershop.
“We were hoping to get another barbershop,” Haberli said. “There are a lot of walk-ins and he had that training.”
Pratt worked with Agnew’s father Gary on purchasing the business. He couldn’t keep the name because the Village Barber Shop belonged to Agnew’s former partner Robert Rancourt.
Pratt named it The Gentleman’s Barber Shop in keeping with the spirit of community that Agnew maintained. The new sign and activity at the corner piqued the curiosity of the locals, who seemed pleased it would reopen.
The shop opened last week after being closed since May. He had 13 customers by early morning on his first day and the business has grown.
Pratt, 35, wants to continue Agnew’s traditions, such as a Christmas Eve gathering, and plans on staying until he retires.
“I’d like to make him proud that I’m the one who took over,” Pratt said.
Pratt’s customers come from Southington, Middletown and he even has one from Salem, New Hampshire. But when he asks the regulars where they are from, they usually say “up the hill,” referring to Diamond Hill Road.
“He does a good job,” said longtime customer Larry Jardin of Meriden. “I always feel like he does a clean cut. I’m really glad he came back here. It’s more convenient.”
After getting to know Pratt, Haberli is confident the new barber will blend well into the community.
”I think it will be a good fit all around,” Haberli said.
Pratt plans to attend an upcoming Family Fun Day in Agnew’s honor. The event runs from 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 7 at the American Legion on Hanover Road.