By Jeremy Oster
The barber pole is spinning again in front of The Country Barber Shop, formerly Matt’s Country Barber Shop, at 6930 Charles St., Rockford.
It’s cozy inside and there’s blues and jazz playing on the radio. Scores of coffee cups line little wooden shelves along an entire wall of the waiting area, homage to 45 years of Rockford men sipping coffee and sharing stories.
Both barber chairs and the cash register by the door are antiques. New barber Tony Leon seems right at home with his handlebar mustache and friendly demeanor. That’s good news for Jeremy Couch, who made his second visit to The Country Barber Shop Nov. 7, with his friends from work.
“I’ve had one other shaving experience right before a friend’s wedding,” Couch said. “But, they were in a big hurry, and it wasn’t anything like this. This is the best shaving experience I’ve ever had, and it was a really relaxing experience, too.”
Couch paid for both his friends to get their first real shaves.
Leon said: “There are 14 parts to the face and four different strokes — freehand, backhand, reverse freehand, and reverse backhand — which is only for behind the ear.”
Leon uses a pre-shave oil to help the razor glide well, hot lather, numerous hot towels, and then finishes up with genuine Bay rum. He takes his time to do the job right; Couch’s shave took between 30 and 40 minutes.
Besides a good shave, Leon is adept at numerous styles of haircuts.
“I specialize in men’s traditional haircuts such as pompadours, pompadours with side parts, flattops, fades and tapers, you name it, ” he said. “I also enjoy putting a spin on the traditional styles for the more modern man.”
Matt Tortorici opened near the intersection of Perryville and Charles Street a few years before the CherryVale Mall was built. Knowing a new shopping center was in the works, Tortorici saw the potential in opening a family business at what was then just an open field at a country crossroads.
Tortorici recently decided to hang up his clippers and enjoy the retired life. Instead of closing up shop, the family decided to keep the doors to their family tradition open with Leon’s help.
Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; and 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday. The shop can be reached at (815) 398-5147 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thecountrybarbershoprockford.
From the Nov. 19-25, 2014, issue