The Proper Barbershop: A quartet of values

Barber Victor enjoys a joke from client Lukas — or maybe it’s the other way around.

The Proper Barbershop in Port Warwick opens with a harmonic trio of values that strike a nice chord:

  1. Look good.
  2. Feel good.
  3. Be great.

“The way you look changes the way you feel, and then you do good things that make you be great,” says John Pina, The Proper Barbershop owner. Pina sings praise about the first hot towel shave he had in an “old school” New York barbershop. “The experience of being well taken care of in a communal setting felt amazing. It was in my head for 10 years to open a traditional barbershop for the modern man, but I never took the initiative. Teaching for 10 years was secure,” says Pina.

Security sounds sensible for this father of three boys and a baby on the way in September. Pina explains that he and his wife Samantha eventually composed a lifestyle that allowed him to share in the parenting and finally start the dream business in November 2018.

Owner John Pina

Although Pina has teaching experience, he says he did not feel compelled to “home school” his children while his shop was closed during quarantine. He says, “We focused on essential skills that they need to get by — being healthy, walking, moving, dancing, jumping and reading to go anywhere you want and ‘talk’ with anyone you want. We also worked on things like interpersonal communication.”

Pina loves moving, too, and clears his mind while walking in solitude on the Noland Trail. Yet he also feels that people “thrive in communities,” he says. “At one point I apprenticed with a barber in Williamsburg. But I prefer to focus my time developing our shop to be the most inclusive, diverse, full-spectrum, friendliest and most welcoming shop in the area. And I seek local products like ‘butter’ from the Burly Boy Beard Company. It seems like there’s a new shaving product on the market nearly every week. That is a reflection of our culture saying it’s OK to take care of yourself.”

Pina continues, “We are a place for come-as-you-are networking where men can let their guard down. Men are lone wolves, but we strive for community. I want our clients to come to a welcoming safe space and feel better when they leave.”

High top tables with barstools and daily coffee attest to an atmosphere where men can hang out for any reason. “I really relate to a saying I heard that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” Pina says. “Men can come here and find their tribe. Life is short. Be your best self, and have fun!”

The fun fourth value in the barbershop’s quartet rings out often. Heartfelt laughter harmonizes with Pina’s vision for an authentic, proper barbershop for the modern man.

The Proper Barbershop
Address: 177 Herman Melville Ave.,
Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: John Pina, owner
Phone: 757-604-5323
Business: Barbershop for the modern man

About Tess Goldblatt 20 Articles
Tess Goldblatt wrote for the Oyster Pointer from 2006-2012 and rejoined the staff in 2019 when her nest emptied. Tess and her husband downsized to a condo on Buckroe Beach where she loves photography and crafting with beach combing finds... and writing fun stories for us!

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