When you enter the Barber Pole at 43 Owen St, it's atmosphere-rich.  Decor meticulously carries through both rooms of this barbering mecca, from fawn coloured walls, to English leather chairs, to music, to the espresso machine tucked into the corner.

Four century old leather and chrome barber chairs support patrons.  Subtle dressers from India hold barbering supplies.  The emporium says "this is a place whose owner will care for me."

As Vincenzo mixes lather for a hot shave, or prepares scissors and comb for that rhymthic trim, the man who's entered knows life is about to change.

I stood in this young man's shop last week, and watched him, immaculately attired in black pants, white shirt, bow tie and smile, and I thought... "this is where men can come to be pampered!"  With spas and facials and manicures and pedicures and massages, women have, for years, had places to go to be cared for.  The Barber Pole is like that, for men.

Vince has learned his craft well, first with the Vidal Sassoon Academy on Toronto's Bloor St.  He added to his skill set through the Wella Hair Cosmetic company as he became a colour technician.  And, he topped off an education that added "how" to "what" as a barber with Truefitt & Hill, hairdressers to the Royal Family, located at Buckingham Palace on Bond St.  Vince worked at the firm's downtown Toronto shop at Bay and Adelaide... he perfected his use of the straight razor, the care of the customer both in and after the chair.

While his interest in barbering started in his uncle's Barrie shop at Anne & Livingstone, this St Monica's and St Joe's student watched his dream take seed and root while serving the financial district in Toronto.  He remembers so well the atmosphere in his uncle's shop, the stories of Italy and Venezuela as the family made its way to Canada.  And as he listened he began to plan for his own shop.

He's been buying and storing the furniture for some time... four barber chairs from Chicago, manufactured in the late 1800's, chrome polished until it gleams.  To his location, he's added furnace, air conditioning, walls, washroom, closets, flooring... gracious dark wood.

The Barber Pole is becoming a popular 'wedding day' location for grooms and groomsmen as they get decked out for their big event.  Vince provides the liquor licence that goes with the day.

On Vince's bill of fare is a scalp massage with intense treatment to the muscles in the head and neck, a 9-towel hot shave, a hair cut and trimming of nose, ear, neck hairs and eyebrows (the "weeds" one happy patron commented).

Vince sends you off in fine style, brushing off your shirt, and helping you into your jacket.

"We want you to feel like you've spent a million dollars," he said.  You will have spent half an hour and the price tag is less than the cost of lunch.  This oasis of calm puts new meaning behind the phrase:  "the way you feel starts with the way you look."

Vince isn't interested in being the next new trend in Barrie.  "My hope is that my shop is for people who appreciate excellence, what it feels like to be well groomed. The Barber Pole is designed for people who represent and respect excellence."

"I see myself as a man's grooming specialist," says Vince.  Shoe shine plans are on the way.  Gift certificates are available.

The Barber Pole is Vince's dream for some time now.  His shop looks exactly like it did in his dreams.

"I'm a firm believer in time; when it's your time, it happens.  Mine came now."

Thanks, Vince.  Thanks for coming back to Barrie with your excellence.  Thanks for making an investment downtown.

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