CORNER BROOK — It’s a known fact barbershops that cut only men’s hair are a dying breed, but sometimes you are able to still find the candy cane swirls harbouring somewhere in your city.
Small’s Barbershop is one of them.
Hidden on the busy street of O’Connell Drive, it’s a cozy shop that opened over 35 years ago by Eugene Small. The entrepreneurial barber has been clipping the usual cuts and shaving the necks of men who are loyal to the business.
Since then the service has been taken over by Small’s son Randy. He is the lone barber at the shop now, who learned from his father the trade of scissors and razor blades.
“I just grew up around it,” said Small.
The gentlemen who come to the shop sit and talk to one another like a scene from an old film. The subjects range from weather, politics, community happenings and sports.
Small said the business is mainly based on regular customers, but sometimes someone new may come in and want a gentleman’s haircut.
“We take the pride in the fact that we are an old-fashioned barbershop,” said Small. “(A place) where you do regular gentlemen cuts ... barbers and barbershops are a dying art.
“When you walk into a barbershop it’s almost like coming home,” Small said. “It’s comfortable, a community-type feeling.”
Business gets busy as Small is the only barber, but he said that is all part of it.
“If I had other people working here, my clientele would want me to cut their hair,” Small said. “You have your personal clientele ... you’re performing a service that they appreciate, it’s something that is needed.”
Small said the shop is also family oriented.
“You develop a friendship over the years,” he said. “You get to see their children and their children grow up in the barbershop as well.”
Small’s barbershop once had the barbershop pole, but due to the weather it was taken down. There is now a sign placed there with the famous swirls everyone knows but seldom see.
“It’s nice to see that there are a few barbershops around that are continuing to keep this tradition alive,” Small said. “We never changed because some things shouldn’t change.”
Bob’s Barber Shop on West Street cuts men and women’s hair. It has been doing so for 15 years.
Bob Marshall, owner, went to barber school in Moncton, N.B., in 1962. After he was done the course he hitchhiked around when someone in Antigonish, N.S., asked him would he like to cut hair at the army base in Stephenville. Two years after, Marshall opened his own barbershop in 1964 in Corner Brook. Then, in 1971, long hair was in vogue, so Marshall went to a Toronto school to learn how to cut the shoulder-length hippie-style hairdo.
There are five barber chairs at Bob’s and there are five barbers; Marshall and four women. He said women barbers came into the industry about 30 years ago.
“When they leave here I hope they’re in a better mood and they look better too,” said Marshall.
Marshall said barbers coming out of school are not as educated in the profession as barbers in the yesteryear.
“If they’re trained now they are trained as a beautician,” Marshall said. “If you hire someone now basically if they come into the barbershop, we got to train them to cut — they’re not trained in men’s hair ... it’s hard to get good barbers, impossible really."