Senior Times • September 2016
Richland barber has no plans to cut 50-year career short BY JESSICA HOEFER for Senior Times
When Aaron Hines and his three younger brothers needed a haircut, their dad would plop them down in the kitchen chair and give them a trim. “And then my dad decided I should cut their hair so he didn’t have to, and that was with old hand clippers,” said Hines, 83, who celebrated 50 years as a professional barber in July. “So after I got to cutting my brothers’ hair and doing a pretty fair job, friends and neighbors thought maybe I should cut their hair as well, and sometimes they tipped me—and I loved it.” Hines was 14 at the time, and although he enjoyed cutting hair, he ventured down different career paths, trying his hand as an electrician, carpenter, and even a minister. At one point during the Eisenhower administration, he landed a job at Boeing and helped build the first Air Force One.
“It’s the best decision I ever made.” - Aaron Hines, on becoming a barber “I did a lot of different things,” he said, laughing at the memories. Then in 1965, while changing a tractor tire, Hines injured his back. Washington State wanted to send him through a rehabilitation program, and suggested he attend business school. “And I said, ‘No, I want to be a barber.’ And it’s the best decision I ever made,” he said. At 33 years old, Hines started work at Ganzel’s Barber Shop in Richland, which has been serving the community since 1944. There were
In July, 83-year-old Aaron Hines celebrated 50 years as a professional barber. He works part time at Ganzel’s Barber Shop in Richland where he started his career.
17 barbers and 15 barber chairs then, he said. As a newbie, he had to compete for clients, but he quickly learned how to connect with customers so his chair didn’t stay empty for long. “I developed a system for remembering names while I cut hair, and I’d make notes so the next time they came through the door, I would call them by name and it’d give me an edge,” he said. In the 1970s, Hines left the TriCities and moved near Eastern Washington University in Cheney where he leased a salon on campus for 13 years before moving back and buying Ganzel’s Barber Shop with a partner, Dave Bishop. By 1995, Hines was ready to retire, and he sold his portion of the business to his partner. “But I didn’t like (retirement),” he said. “So I bought a hair salon in Kennewick named Hair Designers. I owned that for about five years.” When he sold that salon, he came
back to where his roots were: Ganzel’s Barber Shop, which is now owned by Freddy Mitzel, who bought it in 2014. “I get along great with Freddy,” Hines said. Along with a new owner, the barbershop has gone through changes, including opening up the space.
Today, there are five chairs and three barbers—although Hines said they could use more. Mitzel and one other employee are full time, and Hines works 14 hours a week, and only in the mornings, Tuesday through Friday. “I open at 8 o’clock and by noon I’m gone,” he said, adding that he stays busy his entire shift. “I had four people waiting at the door for me this morning.” Walk-ins are welcome, and Ganzel’s Barber Shop, at 747 The Parkway in Richland, is open Monday through Saturday. During his shift, Hines said he runs an early bird special for the first hour, charging $12 for a basic cut. After that, the price goes up to $14. Other services, such as beard trims, which cost $5, are available. “I’ve done a lot of Caesar cuts,” said Hines, reflecting on popular styles over the years. “As far as favorites go, mine has to be the business man’s haircut. That’s tapered around the sides and back. I do a lot of elderly men’s hair, and I thoroughly enjoy that. We relate well. I enjoy visiting with them. I understand when they try to describe what they want. It’s a piece of cake—and I like cake.” uBARBER, Page 6