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The interior of Jamie’s Bar­bershop in downtown Hillsdale on Bacon Street. Courtesy | Megan Smith

The weather outside was cold and wet, but inside Jamie’s Bar­bershop it was warm and cozy. The wood-paneled walls and land­scape mural were rem­i­niscent of the Brady Bunch house, or the Andy Griffith show, which was the inspi­ration for the shop’s remod­eling in the 1970s.

“I don’t know if I would ever change it,” the owner Megan Smith said as she cut the hair of Ricky Carter, one of her regular cus­tomers. “I really like the nos­talgia.”

Although not always under the same name or own­ership, Jamie’s Bar­bershop on Bacon Street in downtown Hillsdale has been estab­lished in the com­munity since the 1940s.

Almost four years ago, Smith bought Jamie’s Bar­bershop from the pre­vious owner, Jamie Vreeland, so  he could retire. Smith met Vreeland when she was in beauty school and stopped by the bar­bershop on Friday after­noons to watch him work.

“I always said I never wanted to own my own shop,” Smith said. “But when I first stopped in here, Jamie told me I would own the shop one day. I laughed at him and said, ‘Yeah, I highly doubt that.’”

Smith has worked pro­fes­sionally in the hair business for six years, but she has known how to cut and style hair since her mother taught her at the age of 13. After attending Hillsdale Beauty School post-high school and working two part-time jobs as a cos­me­tol­ogist, Smith bought the bar­bershop in August of 2016.

“He knew he wanted to retire, but he wanted to make sure the business would stay open and that his people would be taken care of,” Smith said. 

“And he knew that I had the same mindset as him,” Smith con­tinued. “That I really wanted to keep it as a bar­bershop, that I would not turn it into a salon. I like to keep it men-ori­ented because this is one of the last bar­ber­shops around.” 

Smith has main­tained typical bar­bershop prac­tices, including the tra­di­tional hot-towel treatment.

“A hot towel is along the lines of a facial,” Smith said as she mas­saged Carter’s face before wrapping a steaming towel around it. 

“I’ve been waiting for this day for so long,” Carter said.

Smith explained that she does not give face shaves, but decided to start the hot-towel treatment that usually accom­panies face shaves after several cus­tomer requests.

“I started asking cus­tomers what about the face shave they really wanted, and they said they really wanted to know what the hot towel feels like,” Smith said.

Smith has been able to add this longer service now that she has help from Dixie Plush, who joined the bar­bershop team about a month ago.

“I’ve been an instructor at Hillsdale Beauty College for nine years, and my hours got cut, so I wanted to stay either teaching or going into a salon,” Plush said. “I actually stopped in to watch Megan cut guys’ hair, and we got talking, and it just so hap­pened that she needed help.”

Plush also said she’s enjoyed tran­si­tioning from an instructor back to a student again.

“Megan’s a great teacher,” Plush said. “A men’s haircut isn’t just a basic men’s haircut, there’s a lot that goes into it.”

Many of the finer tech­niques Smith learned from Vreeland when she first bought the shop and appren­ticed under him for some time. Vreeland still works in the shop on occasion, as he likes inter­acting with the cus­tomers.

“I still have some friends that like to come in and hang out and talk and do the old-fash­ioned barber thing,” Vreeland said.

Several regular cus­tomers, like Carter, were “here before Megan was,” but Smith inherited those reg­ulars. When she answered the phone and talked to a cus­tomer booking an appointment, she sounded like she was talking to an old friend. 

Both Smith and Vreeland said they’ve also gotten to know several Hillsdale College stu­dents who have used their ser­vices.

One Hillsdale College cus­tomer, senior Alexander Yun, was vis­iting for the first time on rec­om­men­dation from a friend.

“A friend of mine got his haircut here, and he said it’s an old-time bar­bershop where you can get a straight razor shave in the back, so that appeals to me,” Yun said. “I like the old-timey feel.”

Smith said she was “lucky” to have Jamie’s training, because most salons don’t have as much skill in cutting men’s hair. According to Smith, she intends to maintain the bar­bershop just as it is.

“I don’t want guys to have to go into a salon and feel sur­rounded by women,” Smith said. “I like that I can keep this ori­ented toward men so they know they have a spot.”