Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hair Cuts

The haircut is dying a slow, shaggy death.

Say goodbye to another of our traditions: the lazy, chatty time spent in the barber's chair.

If you think our depressed economy hasn't cut through several swathes of Americana, think again.

"People wait longer," my barber Vito told me last time I was in the chair. "Instead of six weeks they might go eight, or longer, between cuts."

It should be noted that Vito told me this as I was a few weeks tardy for my own shearing.

It all adds up. More and more people waiting longer and longer between haircuts, and the corner barber shop starts feeling the pinch.

Vito's been cutting my hair for several years, over at Filary's on Dequindre in Warren. He gained me as a customer after the previous owner died unexpectedly.

Vito's a Brooklyn kid, though he's no longer a kid, I suppose. He's been here long enough to call himself a Detroiter, though.

A year or so ago, Filary's started closing on Wednesdays, in addition to the traditional "barber's weekend" of Sundays and Mondays off. Slumping business was the impetus behind that decision.

So it's a four-day barber, and when did you think you'd ever see that?



It's not just Filary's.

"I have friends who are barbers and they're hurting too," I remember Vito telling me. "Some don't even go to a barber anymore. They'll do it themselves, or have a family member cut their hair."

Here's another thing that I didn't think of right away.

"No one's going on job interviews anymore," Vito said, and he's right. "So that's one less reason to get a haircut."

The trickle down theory of economics; but you know what else trickles down, don't you?

The barber shop used to be a place to find the pulse of this country. All over, from coast to coast, on Saturday mornings, you could do a better, more genuine poll of this country's politics in the barber shop than anything Gallup could come up with.

When I mosey in to Filary's, there's rarely anyone ahead of me. Vito is almost always "between" customers.

Didn't used to be that way. Saturday was usually the day you avoided if you didn't like crowds before your haircut.

Now, Saturday isn't all that different from Tuesday or Thursday or Friday. And that's not a good thing.

In fact, the next time I see Vito, he's going to need himself a lawn mower, I think.

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