BENTONVILLE -- Charlie Turner tried to retire from his barber shop business six years ago.
"I lasted three months," the 69-year-old Bentonville native said Thursday in his shop on Main Street. "Winter came on, and I couldn't do anything but look out the window. I said 'I can't do this' and had to come back."
At A Glance
Charlie’s Barber Shop is at 201 S. Main St., just north of the Bentonville Public Library. It is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. It is closed Sunday and Monday. The business can be reached at 479-273-0700.
Source: Staff Report
June 12 marked 50 years Turner has been cutting hair in Bentonville.
He leaned on his barber chair and told his story as he waited for customers. He never makes appointments and only accepts walk-in business -- an aspect of traditional barber shops.
Turner didn't know he wanted to be a barber until Christmas break of his senior year in high school, he said. The training didn't require much time or money. That's what interested him, he said with a sly smile and soft laugh.
Training took 1,500 hours, or nine months, two rounds of testing and a year and one-half apprenticeship, Turner said. He recalled that the school's test consisted of 300 questions and the state test had 100.
Turner has worked in four locations, all in Bentonville. He started out at Elkhorn Barber Shop on the square. When the building went into foreclosure, he moved into Mayhill Barber Shop on West Central Avenue. He worked with the owner John Mayhill for 10 years before moving into a location on A Street and creating Charlie's Barber Shop. Two and one-half years later, Turner set up shop at 401 S. Main St.
He's been there since 1988.
"I got tired of moving around, so in '88 I came down here and built this one," Turner said. "I plan on being here until they carry me out."
It's a simple shop with two barber chairs. A TV sits in the corner. A old-fashion candy machine is about a third full with what looks like pieces of Chiclets gum. A bright, circular orange sticker says "10 cents".
The side wall is lined with mirrors and brown, comfortable chairs where customers wait and visit. Above the mirrors is a message written in red on a white board announcing that profanity in front of women and children will not be tolerated. It's signed "Charlie."
He's a gentleman to everyone, said Clovis Hance, a barber who started working in Turner's shop in January.
"He's a sweetheart of a man," Hance said.
In the barber business, one has to get to know his customers, Turner said. It's his favorite aspect of the job.
"Everybody's special," he said. "You can learn something from everybody as long as you're willing to listen and as long as you're willing to learn."
Turner boasted about his customers and their loyalty. He's been cutting hair for some families for multiple generations. A couple of customers have gone to him for the 50 years he's been in business.
"People have been good to me," he said. "I can't take much credit myself."
Turner said he just tries to treat people well.
Norman Swartwood was one of Turner's customers Thursday morning. He's has been going to Turner for 10 years.
"He does just what you ask, and he does it well," Swartwood said.
Turner gets excited to know about what's happening in Swartwood's life, and asks about his family each time he comes in, Swartwood said. He cuts hair and connects with his customers well.
Turner has seen style trends come and go over his five decades in business. Most were easy to roll with, but the hippies in the 1960s and 1970s were challenging with their long hair, he said.
Teen boys would want to grow their hair out, but their father's didn't want them to, Turner said.
He recalled seeing 17- and 18-year-old boys crying in his barber chair over having to cut their hair short.
Hitting 50 years of service is just a milestone in Turner's career, not an ending. He has no plans to retire.
"I will stay until my health makes me quit," he said. "And, so far, it hasn't."
NW News on 06/14/2014
Print Headline: Bentonville Barber Celebrates 50 Years Of Business