Cutting close

Longtime barbershop owners plan to shut down store in the fall

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Routt County is in danger of losing a piece of Americana.

After cutting hair for 20 years in Steamboat Springs, Ken and Jane Shovick say they are closing the Family Barber Shop, 401 Lincoln Ave.

"It was a tough decision because I know we're going to leave a big hole here without a barber," Jane Shovick said last week.

"It's really the end of an era," said Ken, her husband, as he looked at old newspaper clippings about their barbershop. The Shovicks have cut hair together for the 43 years they have been married.

Renting space for the shop has become too expensive, they said, and parking is becoming too difficult. They think it will only get worse. The Shovicks also want to get away from Steamboat's severe winters, so they put their Steamboat II home on the market and plan to move to Grand Junction.

They say they will miss the customers who have supported them throughout the years, as well as Steamboat's summers. Ken Shovick said the most difficult part of leaving was calling the Doak Walker Care Center to say he no longer could give haircuts to its elderly residents.

"I've been doing it for 20 years for free," he said.

Many of the Shovicks' regulars already know the shop will close Sept. 22 unless another barber steps forward to take over the business. And it's unlikely that will happen, the Shovicks say, because traditional barber training is rarely taught anymore.

Other regulars find out the shop is closing as they take their seat in one of the two barber chairs.

"Hey, who gave you permission to do that?" longtime Hayden resident Wes Signs asked Jane Shovick when he stopped in for a cut Wednesday.

Longtime customer Rocky Custer requested a George Clooney haircut Thursday, and then Ken Shovick broke the news.

"I'm really sad to hear that," Custer said. "This town needs a barbershop. Every town needs a barbershop."

"It's been fun to bring the boys in to get the barbershop experience," said Steamboat resident Brad Heil, who frequents the shop with his sons. "You get more information here than you do during the entire day."

"That's a darn shame," Mark Fischer said. "Besides my wife, who is going to give me a hard time?"

No conversation is too crass or controversial to be brought up at the shop, but the bad jokes become a little more tasteful when children are present.

Ken Shovick's sarcasm and dry wit never end.

"We're rude to everyone," Jane Shovick said. "We don't pick out favorites in here."

Jane and Ken attended the Colorado Barbershop College and ran a successful shop in Denver for 15 years. When they learned that Steamboat barber Marv Telecky died, they moved to Routt County and took over the shop that had been a mainstay in Steamboat for 50 years. It was 1986, and their landlord charged $150 a month for rent. A haircut cost $5.

"She said, 'I'm going to keep your rent low so you can keep the prices low for the locals,'" Jane said.

At $12, a Shovick haircut is still quite a deal.

"It disappoints me, because it was one of the few places in Steamboat that were still a bargain," said Custer, who takes his sons to the shop.

In 1992, the Shovicks moved the barber pole and the shop down the street to their current location at Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue. In the fall, the pole could come down permanently.

There are plenty of "new-age" stylists, and some of them are really good at cutting hair, Jane Shovick said. But that is not the type of person they are looking for to take over the shop.

"We just cut hair," she said.

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