SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) – A barbershop and laundromat in South Scranton are landmarks of an unlikely role model in the Electric City.
“My mother gave it to me. It’s been around for a long time.”
The nickname, like the man who carries it isn’t easily explained.
“Everybody gravitated to it. While I was on drug court Judge Barrace called me ‘Butters’, so it is what it is.”
Many in South Scranton, minority or otherwise look up to Amar “Butters” Bell, the owner of “Butter’s Barbershop” on Pittston Ave and the “Suds and Duds” on Carey Ave, but it wasn’t always that way.
“I grew up selling things. So I changed my product. It allowed me to become where I’m at today.”
‘Butters’ has an extensive wrap sheet and just years ago went from incarcerated to watching his mother pass from cancer, from homeless to prominent business owner.
It’s a series of life lessons he now passes on to clients and those in the community like Jahquel and Anthony Constantine.
“Butters is a good man and you’ll learn some stuff from him.”
“He teaches the youth that if you put your mind to something? You can do anything you want and be what you want to be.”
Furthering change in the Electric City, butters has helped many others like Andrew Billaruel.
“I was looking for a job, looking for employment. He had a spot and took a chance on me.”
And once those people get to know him, they see why others want to as well.
“He’s a great role model to be someone that you know, I think it’s a life story, a life example.”
It’s been more than 40 years of ups and a whole lot of downs for Amar Bell. He says those are just the obstacles everyone can overcome — and he’s more than willing to set the example.
“A lot of people will live my life, or either in jail forever or dead, you have to just grab yourself by your bootstraps and be like okay I fell down, not dead. Let me get up and keep moving.”
Remarkably, Butters lived in the barber shop he worked at when he was homeless. He now owns the building and that’s where he runs the laundromat.