SIDNEY — The 4th Avenue Barber Shop in Sidney has a new owner.
But longtime customers need not fear. Its previous two owners are still there, cutting hair and giving shaves, as they have been since — in the case of one of them — 1959.
Jordan Perkins, of Sidney, finalized the purchase of the shop, Jan. 4. He bought it from Ron Geise, of Sidney, who had owned it since 1999, when he bought it from Ron Miller. Miller, of Sidney, has been a barber there since it opened in 1959 under the ownership of Clarence Hughes. Miller became the owner in 1970.
Geise and Miller continue to work there with Perkins as their new boss. The three “generations” of owners don’t think it’s strange at all to pass the mantle and hold onto the clippers.
“I enjoy cutting hair. I like to deal with people,” Geise said, of why he’s staying on. “I like to get out and talk to people. Barbering’s a good way to get out of the house.”
Miller doesn’t want retirement to sap his energy.
“A lot of my customers come in and say, “I’m retired. I’m going to go home and sit down,” and in a year and a half, they’re gone. I think they went home and sat down. I think you have to stay active,” the 82-year-old said.
Both former owners noted, however, that relieving themselves of the responsibilities of ownership was a determining factor in selling.
“(Jordan’s) young and got energy,” Miller said.
He also has enthusiasm.
“I plan to remodel and update everything, give it a new, fresh look — in the summer— to bring some new life into it a little bit,” Perkins said.
Miller knows all about remodeling. A 1954 graduate of Sidney High School, he and Hughes began their barbering in a shop on the courtsquare, but in 1959, they moved to the Fourth Avenue location.
“It was a three-room apartment. We tore it all apart,” he said. He was an employee for 17 years. When Hughes wanted to join his family’s construction business, Miller bought the shop. In the decades since, he has seen a lot of hairstyles become popular only to fade.
“The only style that hasn’t changed is the flat top,” he said.
“I still cut a lot of flat tops. Different styles come and go. there’s a lot of military cuts nowadays. When I started, it was just a trim. Now it’s high and tight,” he said. “There’s a lot more facial hair now than there used to be.”
Geise and Perkins studied their craft in Dayton; Miller, in Toledo. Until he bought the Fourth Avenue shop, Perkins was working for a friend in a shop in Fairborn. Geise got his start at a place in West Milton before spending four years in the Air Force. He then worked in the recreation department of the city of Sidney for 26 years and did his hair-cutting on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I worked with Miller for 29 years on the weekends,” he said. “Buying the shop was the best thing I did.”
Now he serves as a mentor to Perkins, who is 21.
“I always feel like I’m his dad,” Geise said. “I’m trying to help him out a little bit with tricks of the trade. I’ve been cutting hair 50 years and I’m still learning.”
It’s been more than 60 years for Miller. He noted that equipment, especially clippers, have changed over time.
“A regular clipper is magnetic. The other is motor-driven. It’s cleaner, faster. But the smaller one is good for blending,” he said.
He was quick to recall funny incidents that took place at his chair.
“Back in the ’60s we had all this long hair. I cut this young kid. In a month, he was back. (His hair) was long and tangled. I said, ‘When’s the last time you combed your hair?’ He said, ‘I don’t know. When’s the last time you cut it?’ Eventually, I got it combed,” Miller said.
Another client abruptly ended the cut midstream.
“He said, ‘You have to stop. I’m having a heart attack,’” Miller recounted. The barber suggested calling 9-1-1, but the client said, “No, it’s only a block to the hospital. I can walk there faster than the truck can get out.”
“He left,” Miller added. “Three months later, he stuck his head in and said, “Can I get the other half of that haircut?’”
Perkins doesn’t have a trove of stories yet. But he’s looking forward to building his business.
“It’s better to do it for yourself than for someone else. You build up your clientele but it’s for their business. So when I build up clientele, they’re my shop’s clientele and not someone else’s,” he said.
Miller and Geise both hope that Perkins will attract younger customers to the shop. The youngest Miller ever cut was a four-month-old baby who slept through the entire process.
“Usually kids don’t get a first cut until they’re about 1,” he said.
All three are good conversationalists, a talent that’s necessary for the job. Most of the time, the talk centers around sports: football, basketball and baseball. Miller, however, recalled one man who paid him an extra $2 not to talk.
“Hey, I can keep my mouth shut for two bucks,” he laughed.
Neither he nor Geise has plans to quit any time soon.
“I’ll probably work here as long as I feel capable of working. Not too many people enjoy what they’re doing, but I’ve got a good job I enjoy. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you might as well keep doing it,” Geise said.
They both say Perkins has a lot to look forward to.
“I think he’s got a good future,” Geise said.
The 4th Avenue Barber Shop offers hair cuts, hot towel straight razor shaves, beard trims, scalp manipulations and facial massages. Hair cuts cost $12; beard trims, $3; razor shaves, $10; a facial massage with a hair cut costs $20.
The shop is open and accommodates walk-ins, as well as clients who have set appointments, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Work is done on a cash only basis. Credit cards are not accepted. To make an appointment, call 492-8730.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.