There are a many men in Pinecrest who would give you an incredulous look were you to ask them where they get their hair cut. To them, there is only one answer — Pete’s Barber Shop, at 11505 S. Dixie Hwy.
Having just ticked past its 56th year, there are very few businesses that can lay claim to staying power the way that Pete’s does. It is easily the oldest tenant in the Suniland Shopping Center.
A business, no matter how old, is valued primarily by its work force and there is no better group than at Pete’s. At $15 for a haircut, $15 for a shave and $25 for a manicure, not only are the prices competitive, but when quality and familiarity are taken into consideration, it’s a downright steal.
One could say that a man’s regular stops at the barber shop could be used as a barometer for time’s passage. As 25-year-veteran Deg McCracken puts it, “The way you know you’re getting older is when you got your first haircut at Pete’s and the next thing you know, you’re bringing your kids in for their first haircut.”
That relationship breeds a very special kind of loyalty between a patron and his barber. Lefty Fairfield, who has spent 40 years working at Pete’s, puts his relationship with his customers rather humorously.
“I get their hair messed up so bad, nobody else can do anything about it,” he says.
The devotion of Pete’s clientele reflects the tenure of its staff. Though currently there are folks such as Bill, Lefty and Saray who have been there for over 40 years, as well as barbers such as Ronny and Tony who have only worked there two and four years, the average rests at an even 27 years.
“We’ve all grown up together,” Deg says.
“That’s what it’s all about.” Armando, whose total time dedicated to Pete’s amounts to just over 30 years, agrees with that sentiment. Family matters had caused him to move away for three years, but a combination of wanting to live close to his children and missing everyone at Pete’s brought him back despite the fact that, like many of his fellow barbers, he is past retirement age.
“My coworkers and customers, they’re good people,” he says. “I’ve made some real friends here.”
Terry Fairfield, who manages Pete’s and can be found there most mornings, echoes that sentiment, taking it a step further.
“They’re not even customers anymore, they’re friends,” he says.
Saray Dacal is the sole manicurist at Pete’s and works once a week on Saturdays. Her customers come in by appointment only, though she does take walk-ins if time permits. She retired after 40 years, at her husband’s request, but it wasn’t long before she came back.
“I retired, but a year later I returned because I missed the customers so much,” she said. “We’re like family.”
“The mood, intellect, politics and interests of the barber wind up matching his customer base,” said Niles while working on the hair of a local surgeon.
Customers who enjoy classical guitar find a kindred spirit in Javier, who can often be found outside in the courtyard during lulls in activity strumming his guitar. Others who would rather converse about topics such as science, politics and the possibility of extraterrestrial life might want to sit in Charlie’s chair.
“You know, Niles was abducted by aliens,” Charlie confides to a customer. “He wound up breaking the probe and escaping, but not before they got to his dog.”
Everyone inside the place roars with laughter. This is how it is at Pete’s. There’s no pretension, just honesty, fun and goodwill. For a many of them there, this is the first and last job they’ll have. They got it right the first time.