For most, a trip to the barbershop is just a haircut. But for Durango Barbers owner Joe Damonte, it is about community and relationships.
Before owning the shop, Damonte lived in Summit County, where he spent time working as a chef and an ice carver.
He worked for Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, and while in Summit County went to work for Vail Resorts running a conference center. He also worked as the all-resort executive chef for Breckenridge, and had his own restaurant for five years, he said.
After leaving the culinary industry, Damonte knew he wanted to become a barber when getting a haircut for a job interview. His father also owned a barbershop.
“I was talking to my barber about changing my career path, and he just dropped the idea of being a barber in my lap,” he said.
Damonte said the skills from his previous career paths helped shape his style, as he enjoys working with his hands. He prides himself on his abilities with straight razor and received acclaim in Summit County for his work.
“It’s a lost art,” he said. “Not a lot of people want to do the straight razor shave because it takes time. If you come in here for a shave and a haircut, you’re in here for an hour and a half. It’s the men’s spa treatment. They love the towel and the scent.”
Durango Barbers emphasizes the old-school barbershop feeling, one that Damonte identifies as creating an atmosphere of community and trust. He enjoys the camaraderie that comes with cutting hair and talking about people’s lives.
However, Damonte says he moved to Durango to be closer to his family and to retire. The climate and mountains also played a role in him choosing Durango. He said he may retire in four to five years and plans to hand over the shop to another barber.
While he enjoys the intimacy of the being a one-man show, Damonte hopes to bring more barbers into the shop to create a relaxed social environment that he loves about his favorite old-school barbershops.
“People want a good haircut but they want that conversation piece too, and me working in here alone right now, it is a little more intimate because people can open up,” he said. “Guys who are traveling through or maybe they just went through a divorce get to put it all out there, walk away and not worry about it.”
The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. A traditional haircut costs $30, but there are discounts for children and seniors. A beard trim costs $25 and a straight-razor shave costs $45, but a combination of a haircut and a shave costs less.
Damonte credits his early success to his ability to listen to customers, the shop’s location at 600 Main Ave. No. 111 and his online presence. He hopes his barbershop can become a staple in the Durango community for years to come.