This year, actually two weeks from now, will mark the 100-year anniversary of a “Charlie’s” Barber Shop on N. Church Street.
“I had no idea,” said Amy Rose Trout, owner of Charlie & Co. Barbershop.
Amy, a West Chester native who started cutting hair 19 years ago, was on her way to leaving the industry when fate stepped in. She had moved away from styling full-time to using her skills to earn extra cash while completing her degree. Degree in hand, she was ready for a new chapter, when her dad asked her to meet with his barber.
“Why don’t you talk to my barber? He’s looking to retire,” he suggested. Her father was a long-time patron of Al Cook’s barbershop on Church St. Amy too knew the shop well, having gone there as a kid with her dad. As a courtesy, she met with Al. “Just 5 minutes,” she remembered him insisting.
“3 hours later, I owned a barbershop,” she said as if she still can’t quite believe it.
Perhaps, due to circumstances, it’s no surprise that Amy named her shop after her dad, Charles Trout. The rest, however, gets interesting.
For the last century, the shop at 130 N. Church Street has been a barbershop. There was William Lawlard who ran a shop there from 1933-1948. Then there was Dominic “Dom” Bullotta whose grandson still lives in West Chester and stops by the shop every now and then. Then from the 1970s, when men’s hair started to get long right through the mullets, the hightops, the fades, and back, it was Al’s shop. In 2020, he sold it to Amy.
“I am the first woman to own it,” said Amy but she is not the first “Charlie.”
“Wait, a second, I have a story to tell you,” she remembers Al telling her not terribly long after she had put her own tasteful spin on the shop’s next era (In case you forgot, Amy is the visionary behind the paper heart movement that took over downtown during the start of the pandemic and the People’s Choice Winner of this year’s downtown holiday decorating contest.)
The information came from an old St. Agnes Yearbook clipping someone had saved. From 1923 to 1933 the shop, was owned and run by Charles Keener. A hundred years of Charlie.
“April 1, 1923. I know it’s nuts,” said Amy who sadly lost her father this summer but not his influence – or his name. “Sometimes you can’t plan your life. I love going into work. We have a great family [of barbers] right now. I’m on fire again.”
P.S. Have scissors skills? Amy and the team are looking to add a new barber to the roster. Need not be named Charlie to apply.
Originally published, Mar. 10, 2023
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