Peter Terpak gets the first trim seated in the chair his grandfather used at the former White's Barbershop in Pittsfield.
DALTON, Mass. — Daniel Slater was born a year after the last barbershop apparently closed in Dalton.
Now the 26-year-old is returning the tonsorial art to his hometown with the opening of Clean Slate Barber Shop on Tuesday.
Slater began at Sim's Barber Shop on Tyler Street in Pittsfield and then moved to Upstreet Barber Shop on Linden Street in the city after Sim's closed. His hair-cutting roots began at a young age, as he discovered his talent at 16 when a friend asked him to cut his hair.
"All my buddies saw that I could cut hair, and then I would have the football team lined down my buddy's stairs and I would be cutting hair in his bathroom," said the Wahconah Regional High graduate. "And then when it got to senior year and I didn't know what to do, I went to barber school."
At 18, Slater attended the Rob Roy Barber Academy in Worcester. He completed a nine-month program and moved on to be one of the youngest barbers in the Berkshires. Additionally, he was one of the youngest barbers to get his Master Barber License at the age of 23.
Renovations on the shop at 200 North St. began in April after Slater was told about the space from a friend. Clean Slate sits next to the Dalton General Store in a historic building. Slater did a floor-to-ceiling renovation, resulting in a meticulous space with details such as exposed plumbing, copper sinks, and a drop ceiling.
Slater has always been an artist. In his teens, he made graffiti art before finding his calling with hair. His artistic talents in that direction shine with a statement wall featuring the shop's logo.
The theme of Clean Slate's interior is centered around three vintage barber chairs dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. Two of these chairs came from Hadley while the other is a relic of older Pittsfield and the star piece of the shop.
This chair was gifted by Slater's high school golf coach Peter Terpak and has a great deal of sentimental value. It was used by Terpak's grandfather at White's Barber Shop in Pittsfield. This chair will be exclusively used by Slater because it inspired him to follow his dream of opening a barbershop and reminds him of the great barbers of past generations.
"I saw this barber chair every day at the end of the day when I got home," Slater said. "I looked at it and I said, 'I can't have this in my house, I have to have this in my shop.'"
Terpak was happy to gift the chair to Slater, as he has watched him grow up and succeed over the years.
"Dan's a great kid, I call him kid because I met him when he was 14 and a freshman golfer and he stuck with it," he said. "And we accomplished a lot together so we've become friends and I want him to have it."
For this reason, Terpak cut the first haircut at Clean Slate. He smiled as he sat in his grandfather's chair and had his hair done by its new owner and his friend.
The chairs had been unused for a period of time, so Slater had then re-upholstered and designed by Frankie Designs in Texas. It is clear that a lot of time and effort was spent on the uniform studded upholstery of the chairs, and they match the intricate details in the rest of the shop.
Terpak thinks the barbershop will quickly be part of the "fabric of Dalton," bringing together residents and keeping business within the town. Being a firefighter and police officer, Slater is invested in the well-being of his community. Opening Clean Slate is just another way that he can give back.
"In your life, you try to find your purpose and I just like giving back to people," he said. "I don't care what I take in or what I receive I just want to see other people happy."
Slater explained that barbershops of the past were eventually aged out along with their owners. Being a young business owner brings a whole new space for growth and opportunity.
Terpak is already a longtime client of Slater's and says he gives quality haircuts that aren't rushed.
"He doesn't pipe out quick haircuts," Terpak says. "He really is meticulous and takes his time."
Slater is also a graffiti artist and painted his logo on one wall.
To Slater, the experience is more than just cutting hair, but about establishing a connection with the people who walk through his door and hearing their stories.
"It's more than a haircut for me" he said. "I think memories have more value than money, you get the youngest to the oldest people, and if I can learn something from them, I'm happy."
Because the shop was renovated in the midst of COVID-19, Slater has put in a hand wash sink and a HEPA filter that catches small particles and circulates clean air. Clean Slate's sink was upcycled from a Shire City Brew Haus whiskey barrel, adding a little piece of Dalton to the shop.
On top of the obvious requirement of masks being worn at all times, Slater has implemented a few protocols to protect his clientele. Clean Slate is currently operating under an appointment-only basis, which can be done through Booksy, an online scheduling tool. Additionally, there is no waiting for your appointment inside to reduce the amount of people in the space. When one customers leaves the next can enter.
Slater is the only barber for now but further down the road he intends to train new barbers. The shop is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 5; Thursday from 9 to 6; and Saturday from 7 to 2.
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