Long Live Main Street

I’m a big fan of small, local businesses. Heck, I own one. I can confidently say that if every TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday, Dollar General, Massage Envy, Lady Footlocker, and Justice store on the planet closed their doors tomorrow, I would not shed a single tear. It’s the little guys I worry about.

About half a block from the Ostrom Creative World Headquarters is a placed called Tony’s Barber Shop. I must have walked by it a thousand times in my lifetime, always stopping to admire the stuffed beaver and other dead stuff in the front window–my favorite being the mongoose and cobra frozen in mortal combat. On one recent morning, that hypnotic mongoose was enough to pull me in and get my hair cut. At a little before 9:30, I was the first customer of the day.

Owned and operated by second-generation barber Ed Zembryck, Tony’s has been in its current location for 55 years. Tony was Ed’s father. He doesn’t have big screen televisions or free Wi-Fi. Ed doesn’t cut hair wearing a referee’s uniform. There’s no “concept”…unless you think a barbershop frozen in suspended animation for 55 years is a concept.

Ed cut my hair and we chatted, mostly about hunting. Ed said he had lived a sporting life. We talked about pheasants, ducks, deer, and walleyes and the states of their respective populations. Ed’s conclusion was that things just aren’t what they used to be. The haircut and the conversation lasted just shy of an hour…or about twice as long as it would have taken at the Sporty Sport-Cut franchise. It was a little slice of Mayberry heaven. I’m clearing an hour on Thursday mornings on every fifth week for the foreseeable future.

Long live Main Street…and Ed Zembryk.

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