“This is a slice of Memphis that meets the Lower East Side,” said Mark Sinnis.
“Just a little further north,” Mark’s wife Danna Sinnis chimed in.
Mark Sinnis, 48, is a New York City music scene veteran and proud new owner of Beale Street Barber Shop, Peekskill’s newest business at 907 South St., to open next month.
The two have spent the last several months creating a time capsule of a business. Beale Street Barber Shop (BSBS) will transport customers to a different time and place: Memphis, Tennessee (with that LES flavor), when rock and roll first ruled the country’s airwaves.
BSBS is a unisex hair salon, vintage clothing and jewelry store, art gallery and occasional music venue. The Sinnis’ are dedicated to creating an inviting, interesting and entertaining place for locals, artists, musicians and anybody else to stop by and stay a while.
They also offer ten-step hot shaves for men, who will experience the pampering while they sit in comfortable, leather barber chairs from the “teens” of the 20th Century.
The barber tables are enormous 1920s radios. Framed photographs of Elvis, B.B.King, Ray Charles and other famous blues and rock and roll musicians line the bold yellow and blue walls. An old Johnny Cash Anthology was playing on a TV encased by a 1940s television stand on the day of our interview.
It all comes together smartly so that customers will feel they are in the ones in the wrong decade, not the furniture, since it has all been refurbished and looks brand new.
“It is all the things I love in one place,” Sinnis said with a smile.
He is a licensed hair stylist, 25-year musician and “music scene veteran,” and photographer. BSBS looks like an extention of Mark and Danna's personal styles. Both have sleeves of tattoos and more ink in other creative places. Danna, 34, has playing card suits on the tops of her feet. She was dressed all in black, with high red heals and bright red lipstick had her hair was done in a modest pin-up girl style. And Mark, a rocker with a perfectly groomed mutton chops/beard, looks 10 or 15 years younger than his actual age, 48. "Music keeps me young," he said.
After working several years as a stylist at New York City salons Sinnis is thrilled about the opportunity to run things his way and, more importantly, play his own music. “We will have something for everyone,” he said of his music collection.
“One of the first things we did was mount the iPod dock,” he said.
The name of the shop comes from Beale Street, Memphis, which is considered to be the birthplace of rock and roll. It was where Elvis went to see music and buy clothes that he couldn’t afford before he was famous.
“I thought it was perfect,” Sinnis said, explaining the connection between rock and roll and hair.
“Elvis was a rock and roll star and a sex symbol. But his hair cut was what was so popular,” Sinnis said.
Sinnis started cutting hair as a teenager when his friends wanted Mohawks. He became licensed in the field several years ago and has been working cutting men and women’s hair since. So, while most women will never know what it is like to have the facial hair pampering, they can enjoy a hair cut from Sinnis. Plus, the retail store has a lot of glittery feminine vintage jewelry to browse. They also sell vintage and vintage-inspired clothing and other accessories.
“There are not many places where a mom, dad and kid can all get their hair cut,” Sinnis points out.
Three weeks before opening day the place was in perfect shape, complete with a velvet Elvis hung in the back of the small stage. And, while they know that downtown Peekskill is already home to dozens of other hair salons, the Sinnis' are not threatened because they offer something more than hair styling and are very unique.
“I think what makes us different is there is no rush and good service,” Sinnis said. Plus there is the art gallery/music stage and retail store that helps set this barbershop apart.
Danna, who works as the Director of Business Development in New York City, has helped her husband with the business side of things and will be in the store on Saturdays. The two moved from Midtown Manhattan to Lake Peekskill two and a half years ago after they married. The historic feel, music, art and people drew them to the area, she said. Now, they hope to attract others to discover what they fell in love with here.
“We want to encourage people from other places to come here too,” Danna said. “To take a drive and to understand that Peekskill is a city worth supporting.”
The King himself will be at BSBS at their opening party on May 5. The party is from 2 to 8 p.m. and all are invited. Elvis goes on at 6 p.m. The Beale Street Barber Shop is at 907 South Street, Peekskill. Check out their Facebook page for more photos. The shop opens for business Tuesday, May 8.
Mark also has a residency at the Birdsall House. He plays there every first Thursday night of the month.