Three generations of the Tornambe family have cut hair in Montgomery County and the second and third generations are currently clipping away at the family establishment in the Audubon Shopping Center.
The current family-owned barbershop is celebrated its 40th anniversary this Spring. ?I was raised cutting hair?, recalled Michael J. Tornambe of West Norriton. The 72 year old Tornambe is part of the Tornambe's second generation in the hair styling business. ?When I was young, I would.. lather up (men's) faces for shaves and sweep up. Most of the time I wanted to get out of the shop to play.' He officially began cutting hair in 1953 at the age of 18. His training ground was his father's Norristown barbershop.
The late Anthony Tornambe first ran a New York City barbershop from 1940 to 1945. He opened Tony's Barber Shop on West Marshall Street in 1946 and continued there until he died in 1965. Michael Tornambe rented his own barbershop in Conshohocken from 1960 to 1966. At the time, start-up costs and rent were just $1,300. Michael's younger brother, Joseph M. Tornambe of Cape May, NJ also struck out on his own in the 1960's. He ran Joe's Barber Shop in 1963 in Norristown. From 1964 to 1965, he ran a Lansdale barbershop. In 1966, brothers Michael & Joseph Tornambe joined forces to open the Audubon Village Barber Shop for $6,000. The three-chair barbershop debuted in 1966 and has remained open ever since. In those days, a haircut was $1.25 and a hot shave was 75 cents, Michael Tornambe said. Haircuts are now $13 and men's shaves are simply a memory of bygone days. ?Nobody asks for a shave now,? he said. ?It died out.?
A member of the third Tornambe generation fell into barbering after computer repair work became dull. ?I had no intention of doing this?, said Michael Tornambe's son, Anthony Tornambe of West Norriton. ?I started at a computer repair school but I lost interest.? The Bishop Kenrick High School graduate proudly joined the family enterprise in 1978. At the same time, the three men began adding family hair care to the product line, Anthony Tornambe said. The shop's name changed to Tornambe's Hair Styling in 1981 to reflect the addition of women's and children's hairstyling. Anthony Tornambe's sister, Karen Catagnus, is a hair stylist at the shop, which has nine employees. The longevity of the shop has attracted a loyal clientele that includes many multigenerational family customers. Three generations of the Tom Borai, Gene Walsh and (state Sen.) John Rafferty Jr. families have gotten haircuts at Tornambe's, Anthony Tornambe said.
The St. Gabriel's Hall residential director Ralph Stinson of Collegeville has enjoyed his haircuts at Tornambe's since 1971. ?I'm like all men,? Stinson said. ?You like a certain barber shop and it becomes a tradition. They're just good barbers and good people.? Retired accountant Jim Creighton of Lower Providence has gotten haircuts there for the past 29 years. ?It's quick and it's easy?, Creighton said. ?I went to the same barber in Pittsburgh for 25 years.?
Anthony Tornambe is looking into the future with a clear vision to continue his family's tradition of service and camaraderie. ?We still remember our roots,? he said. ?We are progressing into the future.?
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