Traditional barber shops are fast disappearing

Dr Chen (right) and his favourite barber Che Eun in the retro style shop.

By Wendy John

SIBU: Traditional barber Che Eun, one of the only two barbers in this town, might just have to hang up his scissors after 40 years if he cannot find new barbers to take over.

The old-school barber nearing his 60s, who operates a shop at Blacksmith Road here, shared that the future of his business was under threat as he will retire some day but he cannot find a barber to take over.

Medical specialist Dr Clement Chen, who is Che’s regular customer, realised that traditional barbering was a vanishing trade as the number of old school barber shops are declining while more new and modern hair salons appeared.

“I still prefer to have my hair cut in this old-fashioned barber shop than modern hair saloon. It is sad having to accept the fact that such barber shop will sooner or later ceased to exist.

“Over the decades, many barbers have either passed on or retired. Old-school barber like Che has trouble finding barbers to replace him when he retires because there are not many barbers left while young stylists have a different take on hair styling and hair cutting,” he said.

Additionally, Dr Chen also noted that the business was not making good money with limited number of customers as people today prefer to get a stylish hair cut from a saloon which offers a variety of services than barber.

“Youth do’ot like to have their hair cut in traditional way and nobody is interested to become barber when business is poor. So when the old barbers retire, their shop will have to go with them also,” he added.

Dr Chen recalled that during his younger days in the 1970s, his regular barber would cycle to his house to service him at just 50 cents per cut.

“It costs about RM10 now but it is still way much cheaper than modern saloon which charges between RM12 to RM15 (for a normal hair cut).

“When I was four or five years old, my father and at times my grandfather would bring me to a barber shop at Market Road for a haircut every month. This same shop has moved to Blacksmith Road,” he shared.

Dr Chen said although as he has aged without much hair left on his head, but he still like to have it trimmed once in a while.

“I still go to Che who have been in the trade for 40 years and does his work professionally. Everyone would have a trusted barber just like they have a trusted doctor.

“When we come to think about it, I’m very grateful for patients who trusted me enough to let me operate on them. Many seriously ill people really put their lives in your hands. Just like the barbers, we doctors have to put the interests and lives of our patients first,” he added.— DayakDaily