Venerable barbershop's new owners will soldier on
The Village Squire Barber Shop lost its longtime owner last month, but the shop's new owners plan to continue operating the Bank Block fixture.
Brenda Girardi and Kathie Swanson worked side by side with Doug Phelps for 30 years. Phelps died Feb. 14.
"He was one of a kind," Girardi said. "He always had a story to tell. What a character."
"He would say to people, 'The haircut's free; you pay for the entertainment,' " Swanson said. "He made this a friendly neighborhood place where people could stop by and tell jokes and talk sports. He wasn't shy about telling you what he thought about things."
"It's where people come to get the local news and gossip," Girardi said. "We set up a bench out front and he'd be sitting out there. People would drive by and shout, 'Hey, Floyd!' "
Phelps began working at the barbershop more than 40 years ago and became owner in 1974.
"He lived in Grandview for 35 years and he really cared about this community," Girardi said.
Phelps supported the Grandview Baseball Softball Association, including serving several years as a coach, and helped set up the weight room at Grandview Heights High School, she said.
"There were all kinds of community programs he supported," Girardi said.
The Village Squire Barber Shop even supported four-legged creatures, with a container of dog treats handed out freely to passing canines.
"You see dogs stop by the shop or pull their owners over here," Swanson said.
In addition to being an avid golfer, Phelps also loved the cars he bought, especially convertibles, Girardi said.
One of her favorite memories of him involved the one day he decided to ride his bicycle to work.
"He parked it outside the door and somebody came up and hopped up on it and rode away," Girardi said.
"Some of us jumped in a car and went after the thief," Swanson said. "We caught up with him and got the bike back."
"He never rode a bike to work again," Girardi said, "but everyone talked and laughed about it for weeks."
The barbershop was among the first businesses to rent space in the Bank Block, she said.
"We're the last original business left," Girardi said. "I think having a shop like this adds so much to the block and to the community. You need a place like this."
Girardi and Swanson said they hope to sign a new lease that will allow them to continue operating the barbershop in its Grandview Avenue location.