Very little has changed at the Brunswick Plaza Barber Shop in the more than 50 years it’s been open.
The shop still doesn’t have a telephone — it’s walk-ins only; a scarf left behind on a coat rack about 20 years ago is still there, just in case the owner comes back for it; the original cash register is still in use; the same family still owns and operates the business; and, most importantly; you still can get a hot shave and a haircut.
Don Michalske opened the shop in 1957, and it was the first shop in Brunswick and the newly built Brunswick Plaza.
In 1991, his daughter Vicki Michalske took it over, and Vicki’s daughter Ashlea Bailey finished her training this spring and started work at the shop.
Bailey said many of her clients now can say they got a haircut from three generations of the family.
“It’s kind of funny when customers tell me they’ve had all three of us cut their hair,” she said.
Vicki said she and her father owe their success to keeping the business model simple.
The narrow shop has three barber chairs, and an old-fashioned cash register that was the original one Don opened the business with.
The only change Vicki made was adding her Three Stooges posters and paraphernalia to decorate the walls. She’s a big fan of the comedy trio, mostly because she wasn’t allowed to watch the Stooges as a kid.
“People ask if I think about a bigger place,” she said. “I always say I can’t because it wouldn’t be the same.”
Many of Vicki’s clients started coming to the shop when it was managed by her father. She said it took them a little bit of time to get used to a female barber, but they all came around.
“At first they weren’t sure if they could joke around me, and they were careful not to cuss,” she said. “But now that they know me, I don’t think they see me any different from another barber.”
Vicki said she also visits her older customers when they can’t get out of their home.
“If they’re sick, or I know they can’t make it out, I make house calls,” she said. “They’re the reason we’re still in business, so if they can’t make it in, I go to them.”
Don said he knew the business model would be successful, even though he took a chance on a brand new shopping plaza in a city with only about 750 residents.
“We didn’t have a barbershop, and I knew we needed one,” he said. “Over the years, Brunswick’s been really good to me.”
He said it’s also been good to his daughter and granddaughter, both of whom surprised him when they took an interest in his business.
“I never expected it, and I certainly didn’t expect the third one here to follow her mother,” he said. “They’re both good at it, and they can both get a job anywhere they want. It’s a skill you can take anywhere with you.”
But for now, the two Brunswick residents said they’re happy to stay where they are in the city that supports their shop.
“Brunswick just has a lot of good people, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Vicki said.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or email@example.com.
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