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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

REVISITING VINTAGE BARBER SHOP IN SCOTTSDALE

Like most cities Scottsdale, Arizona depends on goods and services primarily from the corporate world.  That’s life today but occasionally it’s nice to break the habit and buy something from a local independent entrepreneur.

This was easy many years ago as there were plenty of local businesses like diners and restaurants that cooked hamburgers in a way today’s chain restaurants can only dream about.  Most towns also had the locally owned “malt shop” where kids would meet after school or on a Saturday night.

One place I remember from my youth is the local barber shop.  In our Cincinnati neighborhood it was “Joe the Barber.”  Joe would cut my hair as he thought my mother would like it rather than how I thought it should be.  I will never forget the smell of the Fitch Hair Tonic he would use to plaster down my pre-teen hair.  In retrospect, I guess it was worth the $1 he charged.

Joe never took appointments.  Customers would walk in, sit down, and wait their turn while listening to Joe’s scratchy radio broadcasting Arthur Godfrey or Paul Harvey.  Customers would chat or read magazines while they waited their turn.

Today in Scottsdale, a lot of the old barbershops like Joe’s are gone as their owners either died off or didn’t do enough business to warrant unlocking the door in the morning.  Many have been replaced by chain or franchise styling salons or updated versions of barbershops that are also chains or franchises.

In May, 2010, I decided to check and see if any of the old shops were left.  As I crossed Scottsdale Road going west on Indian School Road, I noticed a barber pole in front of a narrow shop in a small strip center.  I parked and approached the Scottsdale Barber Shop.  I couldn’t think of a name more appropriate than that and as I entered, I wasn’t disappointed.

A lady named Roza owned the place with members of her family, including her husband Raffail, and her son and daughter.  It was the nirvana of old time barber shops as Roza told me that the chairs were 70 years old and the barber pole in front was 90 years old.

The shop has been in business since 1957.  They offer all the amenities  of the old days including a straight razor shave, hot towels, neck and shoulder massage, and, of course, a haircut.  Arthur Godfrey and Paul Harvey are gone but have been replaced by a couple of televisions.

One customer told me he lived at 154th Avenue and Van Buren Street but it was worth the price to visit Roza’s place and get his “ears lowered.”

After a nice visit, I felt the euphoria of feeling like I was 10 again and walking out of Joe’s.  I’m going to Roza’s for my next haircut as long as she promises not to use any Fitch’s Hair Tonic.

Fast  forward to the present.  Roza and her family are still doing business at the same location giving the same quality and service as seven years ago when I wrote the above.  It’s proof that the public knows a good thing when they see it and will return.