By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Alan Hitt is better known as “Buddy.”
Which makes sense, since he’s exactly that – a buddy with everyone who walks into his Main Barber Shop.
“He’s easy to talk to and everyone just gets along in here,” said Bill Snider of Blue Springs, who has been getting his hair cut by Hitt for nearly as long as Hitt’s been in business.
And make no mistake, Hitt is a barber.
“I cut hair, I don’t style hair,” he said with a wide smile, one he throws often to regulars and newcomers alike in the little shop he’s run since 1970.
His tools of the trade are simple – scissors, a comb and trimmer are just about all he needs.
“I used to offer hot shaves, but not anymore,” he said as he gave Mac McDaniel a “high and tight” haircut.
“I tell them I’ve got hot water, towels and a disposable razor if they need to shave, though,” Hitt said with a laugh.
Like its owner, the shop is no-frills. Nothing fancy about it. Basic.
“I keep it simple,” he said. “I cut hair; that’s about it.”
And, of course, there are the conversations that go on, the bantering between friends and colleagues.
“Oh, we talk about everything,” Snider said. “If you stick around long enough, you might even find out how to fix something. Happens all the time.”
Nobody’s really a stranger when they walk into Main Street Barber, which is about as Main Street America as it gets. There’s the barber pole outside the door, naturally. An American flag hangs proudly in the window under the shop’s sign that says “American-made haircuts.”
Hitt isn’t being pretentious or overbearing with his patriotic display. As the saying goes, it is what it is.
Step into the shop, and probably the first thing you notice is Hitt in the back of the 425-square-foot or so room. There are two barber chairs, but only one is used – Hitt’s. He’s been running solo for nearly 20 years now, and he’s got the haircutting gig down pat.
After all, he’s been doing it since 1968, except for his two-year stint in the Army.
Hitt doesn’t look anywhere near his 65 years, which for some folks is retirement age.
“I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” he said. “But I don’t know if I’ve got another 40 left in me.”
The shop hasn’t changed much during those 40 years, either. It has an air of familiarity with its paneled walls and faded wallpaper trim. Soft drinks and water are for sale for 75 cents, each in a mini-fridge next to the door. Nearby is a bowl of candy with Tootsie Rolls, peppermints and butterscotch.
Vinyl chairs line the left side of the wall, and a few steps away, a table of magazines – some recent, some not so – sits for those who might want to grab something to read rather than join in a conversation or two. Or three or four.
McDaniel, who earlier got the high-and-tight haircut, has been seeing Hitt for years, too.
“He’s a good barber – and a good man,” he said of Hitt.
That means a lot, coming from a Marine.
He, too, likes the company, where tales of woe and intrigue – and a little bit of gossip – are often shared.
Problems of the world are solved consistently, as well.
“I usually come every three weeks to a month,” McDaniel said. “But my hair doesn’t grow like it used to.”
Snider could say the same. And he also could find another barber a little closer to home in Blue Springs, but why change something that’s worked so well all these years?
He even brought his boys to get their hair cuts. They’re older and moved on, but Snider hasn’t.
“I like it here,” he said.
Besides, the prices are good.
A haircut is $12. A senior discount gets a dollar off. A wet cut costs $15.
Hitt could raise his prices if he wanted, and probably wouldn’t get much fuss. But why mess with a good thing?
Indeed, Hitt doesn’t think his life could get much better than it already is.
“I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone all these years,” he said. “It’s like a family. … and you know, I really love what I do, and not everybody can say that. I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else, not after this long.”
MAIN BARBER SHOP
Address: 1128 W. Main St., Tupelo
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m to noon. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Phone: (662) 842-4364