Compo Center Barber Shop is a throwback.
It’s not a salon. Not a “coiffeur.”
It’s exactly what its name says: a barber shop.
And it’s been that way for nearly 60 years.
Tommy Ghianuly was one of the first tenants when Compo Shopping Center opened up. Just out of the service, the Bridgeport native was in the right place at the right time.
Westport was booming. Artists, lawyers, commuters — all needed haircuts.
So did their kids.
Tommy was good. He loved to talk, and his customers loved their conversations.
Compo Barbers prospered. Through every trend — crew cuts, long hair, feathered hair, fades, back to short hair — Tommy adapted.
Times changed. He added female barbers. He had to get rid of his shoeshine guys.
The kids of Tommy’s first customers grew up. They married, moved back, and brought their own kids. Now he’s cutting the hair of their kids.
He saw so many stores in the shopping center come and go. McLellan’s. Lenette’s. Westport Record & Tape. Zaro’s. The Ice Cream Parlor.
Yet Compo Barbers — and Gold’s — are still there. And still growing strong.
Compo Center Barber Shop is one of the last vestiges of old Westport. You hear it in the casual conversations that take place in the waiting area. You see it in the warm, loving way Tommy greets all his customers — the ones who have come for 50 years, and the ones who just moved here last week.
You see the old Westport on the walls, too. For decades, Tommy has collected vintage photos. They show it all: the original Main Street. Horse-drawn trolleys. A long-ago blizzard that shut down the trains.
It’s a collection the Westport Historical Society would be proud to own.
Tommy Ghinauly and his rotary phone. On the wall behind him are some of his many historical photos — and those of several generations of customers, posing together.
Above the photos sits a speaker. The music — curated by longtime customer Dennis Jackson — is classic. There’s Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett. The other day, Frank Sinatra sang “My Way.”
Since 1959, Tommy Ghianuly has been doing it his way. That makes him our Unsung Hero of the Week.
If not the Month, Year or even Decade.
(Hat tip: Chip Stephens)