By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4)– A throwback Denver barber shop closed its doors this week after 65 years in business with the owner saying, ”Nothing lasts forever… we almost did.”
O’Brien’s Tonsorial Parlor occupied the same storefront at 8th Avenue and Birch Street in East Denver since it opened in 1953. But at the close of business Wednesday, owner Dick Alderson closed his doors for the last time.
“It’s just leaving people who were wonderful, that’s whats tough,” said Alderson, 84.
He said a number of factors convinced him it was time to close down including issues with his lease and his age.
“It’s too hard standing for nine, 10 hours a day. It gets hard when you get old.”
In his last week in business, he was flooded with old customers who wanted one last $15 haircut.
“People we haven’t seen for 30, 40 years want to get in one more time.”
His shop served Denver businessmen, athletes, doctors and blue collar workers.
Bob Linneberger made it in for one last haircut this week. He has been getting his hair cut by Alderson since he was a sophomore at East High School. Linneberger is now 82 years old.
“So I have been coming in since 1953,” he said. “Never been in another barber shop.”
Linneberger said Alderson, “needs retirement. He’s been going at it a lot of years.”
Many of his loyal customers have expressed similar sentiments.
Businessman Joe Blake has been getting his hair cut at O’Briens for decades and made a point of being the last customer to get a haircut on Wednesday, just before the doors closed for good.
Walking into the shop was like stepping back in time. The old style barber chairs, an old fashioned soda machine and artwork on the walls straight out of the 1950s.
Andy of Mayberry perpetually watched over the customers as they waited to get their hair cut. The shop never accepted credit cards, only cash or checks.
There may have even been a racy magazine or two for customers to page through before they got into the barber’s chair.
One customer recently wrote Alderson a letter stating he and his brother had fond memories of getting their hair cut with their father when they were kids. It was signed, “Warmly Neil Gorsuch.”
Alderson said, ”Whoever thought a little barber on 8th Avenue would get a letter from a Supreme Court Justice?”
Alderson worked at the shop since it opened and took over ownership in 1992 after the original owner died. He would constantly talk sports with his customers and said the heyday was when the University of Colorado Medical Center was operating just across 8th Avenue. A steady stream of doctors and med students would pour in during the day and he said it felt like working on a college campus.
His final day was marked by hugs and handshakes and maybe a tear or two.
“You hate to say goodbye and they stuck with us forever- that’s the tough part,” said Alderson.