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New development plan creates uncertainty for 50-year-old Hamilton business

The men who cut hair at the Hamilton West Barber Shop plan to keep up their work for years to come, although sometime in coming months they may have to reopen in another location.

The shop that has been open more than 50 years in the Hamilton West Shopping Center won’t have its future nipped by the fact that the shopping center may be redeveloped into a completely different thing, including storage spaces, restaurants, offices and possibly high-end housing.

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Although the company that plans to buy the shopping center, Construction Design Management of Bowling Green, Ky., said at a Hamilton Planning Commission meeting early this month that the barber shop was on a month-to-month lease and its lease would end soon, City Manager Joshua Smith said he spoke with the future owners of the shopping center, who told him the shop should be able to remain open in its current location several more months.

“They will still be there at least for the next six months, if not longer than that,” Smith said. “And I’m hoping that between the new developer and Hamilton West Barber Shop that they can be there for even longer than that.”

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The Hamilton West Shopping Center had a new plan for its redevelopment recently approved by the Hamilton Planning Commission. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

“I just wanted to make sure that people realized that they weren’t going away and they start losing business,” Smith added.

Barber shop owner Ryan Haynes said he had spoken with the current and prospective owners of the shopping center and was told they had months left in the location. The future owners could not be reached for comment.

“I’ve talked to both of them, and they say, ‘Yes, a deal is in the works, but it’s nowhere near finalized,” said Haynes, the shop’s owner of seven years, and has worked there for 20 years. In the meantime, “We’re looking for relocation right now.”

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One afternoon last week, one of the shop’s television was tuned to the Little League World Series. In past years, Hamilton’s West Side Little League has appeared on the shop’s television screens, and there is a framed team jersey from about a decade ago, when the team represented the Great Lakes region.

The shop opened in the late 1960s, then owned by George Martin, said Steve Mallicote, who started working there in 1968 and became the owner in 1973, leading it for many years before Haynes took it over.

Barbers (from left) Ryan Haynes, Scott Page and Steve Mallicote at the Hamilton West Barber Shop, which has been open more than five decades. (MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF)

“It’s been in town for 50 years, so everybody in town knows us,” Haynes said. “People leave town, come back. We’re still where they remember us being. Easy to get to, plenty of parking. Handicap-accessible — we cut a lot of guys in wheelchairs, and elderly, in crutches and walkers.”

The shop still has its original equipment, including 13 chairs for customers awaiting their cuts or shaves, plus four Triumph hair-cutting chairs. Four barbers man the store, three of them full time, with Mallicote working part-time.

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The barbers were nervous when it was reported they might close soon, because some years ago, when the shop moved several storefronts away in the same shopping center, a number of customers didn’t realize where they went. Some still may not know, Haynes said. As one looks at the shopping center, the shop is at the far right end of it.

“If we do move, we’re going to try to give them plenty of notice,” Haynes said.

(Staff )

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