Victory Barbershop celebrates 75 years

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

 
Victory Barbershop owner Wendy Crawford gives Victory building owner/landlord Charlie Wicks a straight razor shave Monday afternoon. On July 23, Victory Barbershop will celebrate its 75th anniversary since Merle Shaw opened the business in 1941.
Photo by Charlie Denison

 

Victory Barbershop owner Wendy Crawford has a motto: “simplicity is a good way to live.”

It’s also a good way to run a business.

On Saturday, Victory will celebrate its 75th anniversary as a barbershop.

Even when Merle Shaw opened the place in 1941, the philosophy was to keep it simple, as people came in and out wanting nothing more than a haircut or a straight razor shave.

This simplicity seems to appeal to a fair number in the community now just as it did then, Crawford said, as the doors have stayed open thanks to many regulars.

“Eighty percent of my business is from return customers,” Crawford said. “I also get a fair amount from people passing through town.”

While much has changed in the world and the country in the past 75 years, little has changed inside 212 1/2 West Main Street, where Victory Barbershop began days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

“The chair is from 1962,” Crawford said. “The beveled mirrors have always been here. There really haven’t been many changes at all. I painted a wall, put in a new couch and a chair, but that’s really been about it. The flooring and countertops have had some work done, but it’s been minimal.”

Crawford, who had spent the last 34 years in Colorado, said when her father, Gene Crawford, told her the Victory was for sale, the timing couldn’t be better. She was wanting to come back to Montana and Meg Olson wanted to sell the barbershop to someone with local ties.

“I feel fortunate to be back here and fortunate the barbershop came available when it did,” Crawford said. “

Crawford, a barber for 25-plus years, cuts hair for men, women and children. She’s also the only barber in town who offers the straight razor shave service.

“It’s kind of a lost art,” she said. “Not too many barbers do it anymore, and that’s too bad. I feel if you are going to be a barber you should offer a shave. Otherwise, don’t call yourself a barber.”

There is something about a shave, Crawford said, and there is something about keeping tradition alive.

“I like everything old school,” Crawford said, “and others do, too. This anniversary proves people still like to walk in and get a haircut.”

 

Victory in need of support

Although there are many salons in town, there are only two barbershops, Crawford said, and that’s not how it used to be.

“There used to be around seven barbershops,” she said.

This being the case, however, even though she has her regulars, it’s a struggle keeping the business open downtown.

“In the last year and a half, business has decreased,” she said. “A lot of my regulars have moved or passed away.”

Part of this anniversary is a celebration, Crawford said, but part of it is a reminder the barbershop is still around. It’s also an opportunity to let new people in town know it exists.

“There is a lot of history here and I feel it’s important to maintain businesses such as this in town,” Crawford said.

Crawford has owned Victory for six years now and she hopes to keep the doors open as long as possible, but she needs the help of the community to support her.

“This is kind of a ‘save the barbershop’ type of deal,” she said.

Crawford is having a celebration Saturday to celebrate the anniversary.

“There will be live music, food and haircuts will be on sale,” Crawford said. “Come and join us.”

 

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