With skilled hands the scissors clip away unwanted hair as the customer rests easy in the big barber’s chair.
After nearly 48 years in business, Don Loder has no regrets about retiring and is looking forward to time off. — Photo by Adam Randell/The Northern Pen
VOCM’s “Back Talk” is on low in the background and the day passes by beyond the tiny building’s window.
Barber Don Loder keeps the conversation light, discussing politics, the weather and the fishery, with a few shared laughs in between.
It’s a comfortable atmosphere that he’s perfected over the years, but now it’s no more.
Two weeks shy of 48 years in business, Loder closed up shop on June 27.
Pushing 70, he has no regrets about the decision.
“I’ve enjoyed my work, I’ve made a living at it, but there comes a time for everything, and the time has come for me to retire,” he said.
Loder decided to open the shop after realizing there was a need for it.
“There was no barber in the general area at the time, and I figured it was a pretty good trade to get into, so I went to Corner Brook for my training,” he said.
He returned and opened his business on July 15, 1966.
Loder said he got to see a lot of development pass by his window, noting that the roads used to be gravel and the Woodward Motors parking lot used to be a cattle graze.
He remembers business being a little slow at first because people weren’t used to going to a barbershop for a haircut.
“They’d go to a neighbour’s or friend’s to have their hair cut.”
Loder said he’s heard it all in his shop, but quips those stories won’t be retold because of barber-customer confidentiality.
“But the youngest haircut I done was for a six-month-old and the oldest haircut for a 100-year-old man,” he said.
“Over the years I’ve cut the hair of grandfathers, fathers, sons and grandsons.”
And he enjoys having kids come into his shop. He’s been known to treat them to a stick of gum or two.
“It’s just something I started doing, I couldn’t tell you how much of it I gave away … quite a few cartons in my day,” he said.
He estimates he’s done hundreds of thousands of haircuts.
Loder says he has no specific goals now that he’s retired, but “it won’t be cutting hair.” He just plans to enjoy his time off.
But he will miss the daily interaction with his customers, and the customers will certainly miss him.
Guy Bussey of St. Lunaire-Griquet has been a customer at Don’s Barber Shop since Day 1.
“Don’s a very friendly person and he provided a great service,” Bussey said. “There’s nothing but good to say about Don.”
Bussey adds that now that Loder has closed shop, “I’m going to have to let my hair grow out into a ponytail.”
Loder has been collecting pins for the last 28 years and kept the massive collection on display at his shop. He started collecting himself, but many of his customers have added to the collection. At last count he had 3,442 pins.
The Northern Pen