Eddie’s legacy: Three generations of barbers carry on Cipriani family business
As he was getting a customary massage at the end of his haircut at Cipriani’s Barber Shop last week, Max Decaminada, 71, recalled the man who started the haircutting establishment 35 years ago: the late Eddie Cipriani.
“(Eddie) knew everyone in Carson City, that’s for sure,” said Decaminada while sitting in a barber chair as Maria Cipriani, Eddie’s wife, rubbed his shoulders.
Since her husband’s death in early 2008, Maria Cipriani, 66, has been tending to the family business on her own.
But now, Cipriani is looking to pass on the barber shop to daughter Deanna Fuentes, 45, and her son Nick Fontanez, 18. Until Cipriani retires, three generations of the Carson City clan will be trimming hair and shaving chins at the barber shop on 807 N. Plaza St., a business established by Eddie Cipriani in 1974.
“It’s a good-old American tradition dying out in town, so I thought it would be good to get a new generation in,” Fontanez said.
For more than three decades, Eddie and Maria Cipriani ran their barber shop on the corner of Fairview Drive and Idaho Street. As Eddie’s health deteriorated about two years ago, Maria moved the shop into a smaller building where she could take care of her husband while cutting hair.
He was there up until the last two weeks of his life, Cipriani said.
“He was very much ingrained in the barbering business,” she said. “So it’s cool to get these kids back over.”
Fontanez said he remembers spending his childhood in his grandparents’ barber shop, learning how to shave with a mock straight razor.
Fuentes also spent her youth learning how to cut hair by observing her parents, eventually spending 27 years as a cosmetologist in Nevada. Now, she’s a barber.
“The difference is we don’t really do coloring or perms like we do in a cosmetology shop,” Fuentes said. “And we don’t have the nails going on. It’s pretty much haircuts … and Nick is really planning on bringing back the shave.”
Vicky Sakach, president of the Nevada Barber’s Health and Sanitation Board, said the number of licensed barbers in Nevada has increased over the last decade, especially since a barber college opened in Las Vegas in August 2008.
Still, Nevada’s 854 licensed barbers is far less than the state’s 22,000 licensed cosmetologists, which includes about 13,000 who only cut hair, said Jimno Vincent, executive director of the Nevada Cosmetology Board.
Vincent said the cosmetology industry has slowly, and methodically, cut into barbers’ share of male customers over the last two decades.
“There’s no stigma for men to get their hair done by a stylist now,” he said.
Fontanez said he’s among the few young people trying to make a career in barbering in Nevada. He adds, though, that he’s optimistic about his future in it.
He said his plan is to eventually earn a business degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and expand Cipriani’s Barber Shop like the chain haircutting shops in strip malls.
“We do have an advantage that we’re coming into a family-run business and that we hopefully will be taking over my mother’s clientele,” Fuentes said.
Decaminada, who lives in Minden and visits Cipriani’s about every four weeks, said he’s been going to the shop since 1978 for a few reasons.
“You could call up for an appointment, very personable people, catch up on what’s happening in town,” he said. “I guess (Eddie) had a lot of customers in politics and doctors and stuff like that.”