Lisa McNulty, John Kamrad, Christina Zanino and Jen Malik stand inside Big John’s Barber Shop in Mercerville. (Photo by Albert Rende.)
Lisa McNulty, John Kamrad, Christina Zanino and Jen Malik stand inside Big John’s Barber Shop in Mercerville. (Photo by Albert Rende.)

By Scott Morgan

For guys, getting a haircut these days can be as much of a trendy adventure as you want it to be.

Or you could keep doing it the old-fashioned way and visit a shop that’s been around for 50 years. In Mercerville, that could put you in the chair at Big John’s Barber Shop on Nottingham Way, where the Kamrad family was cutting hair before the Righteous Brothers lost that lovin’ feelin’.

The business began in 1964, 10 years after John and Dorothy Kamrad, and their four children, moved to Mercerville. Kamrad started cutting hair at Roy’s Barber Shop, where he stayed until 1961. Then the Kamrads opened the doors of their own shop at 2425 Nottingham Way and started a family business that would outlast the Soviet Union.

The original Big John was, of course, more than a barber, says his son—also named John and current owner of the title “Big John.”

“Dad was well liked in the community,” the younger John Kamrad said. “He ushered at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, and volunteered with numerous fundraisers at the school. Over the years he sponsored softball, bowling and flag football teams.”

In 1988, Kamrad passed away at the age of 61, from heart problems, but his memory still lives on with family, friends and customers, as well as former employees, John said. John “proudly assumed the role as Big John and shop owner from all the new and younger customers,” he said.

Don’t think, however, that this is strictly a father-and-son business. While barbering might be traditionally a man’s career, Big John works alongside his two daughters, Christina and Lisa. There is a third female barber as well, named Jennifer. Kamrad calls them “well-liked, experienced barbers,” who know all the latest cuts and styles and have the same ability as his father to make everyone who comes in feel at home (because they actually are in the Kamrads’ home). They also do women’s hair cutting, Kamrad said.

The shop’s barbers can bust out a flattop as easily as they can razor around the ears. And as you might expect from a family-owned, family-employed business, Big John’s specializes in the latest children’s hairstyles. And, as you might also expect, the shop caters to families, who bring their children and grandchildren by.

“We are proud to say that we serve many fourth-generation families and look forward to serving many generations to come,” Kamrad said.

One last thing you might expect is how much Big John and the crew see their customers as members of their extended family.

“A special thank you to all our loyal customers,” he said. “God bless you. We cherish your friendship and look forward to serving you for another 50 years.”

Big John’s Barber Shop is located at 2425 Nottingham Way in Mercerville.